[East Business Week] Bob Koigi: Powering the region a renewable energy source at a time
23-09-2022 13:44:00 | by: Bob Koigi | hits: 887 | Tags:

As the East African region seeks to tackle energy poverty by connecting its population that has no access to national grid to power, it is embracing clean, green and renewable energy sources with great success.

Governments, private sector players and development partners, in a bid to respond to the clarion call for just energy transition, have invested in innovative products and services that are delivering last mile connectivity to the underserved communities.  This, as the sector emerges as a new frontier for job creation.

Bboxx, a super platform providing access to essential products and services, and Unilever, one of the largest consumer goods companies, have partnered through Sunlight, a detergent brand, to accelerate the provision of clean energy access for households across Kenya, transforming lives and unlocking potential for all.

Through joining forces, Bboxx and Sunlight will connect an additional 1 million people in Kenya, providing access to essential clean energy products and services over the next three years.

In Rwanda, #CanaChallenge, a Corporate Social Responsibility campaign launched in December 2021 by the Development Bank of Rwanda with the aim of contributing to the Government of Rwanda’s objective of connecting all Rwandan households to electricity by 2024 has seen the installation of over 20,000 home solar systems across the country.

This comes as global technology company Amazon announced that it is expanding its renewable energy portfolio globally, with an additional 2.7 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy capacity across 71 new renewable energy projects.

A recently released report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, indicates that worldwide renewable energy employment reached 12.7 million last year, a jump of 700,000 new jobs in one year despite the lingering effects of COVID-19 and the growing energy crisis.

This has been supported by another report by the Global campaign to end energy poverty, Power for All that shows that increased demand for Decentralized Renewable Energy, DRE, solutions is creating hundreds of thousands of formal and informal jobs with the sector becoming a major employment engine, especially in remote rural areas in emerging and developing economies where poverty and unemployment levels are high. 

As these developments happen, a new campaign is boosting African efforts to seek greater global funding for affordable green energy - essential for adaptation to the climate crisis ahead of the crucial COP27 climate talks.

The campaign calls for wealthy nations to greatly increase climate adaptation funding, and to ensure a significant share of this funding supports access to green, affordable energy for people facing climate catastrophe.

In the financial services sector, KCB Group Plc shareholders have approved the proposed acquisition of the DRC-based lender Trust Merchant Bank SA (TMB) during an Extra Ordinary General Meeting held in Nairobi.

The acquisition is part of KCB's ongoing strategy to expand its regional participation, accelerate growth and maintain sustainable long-term regional success while investing in and maximizing the returns from its existing businesses.

Standard Chartered in collaboration with @iLabAfrica-Strathmore University has launched a mentorship program targeting women in any field with junior-level experience (2-3 years) seeking an entry into careers in Cybersecurity. This follows in-depth research and industry consultations that highlighted a wide skills and gender gap in the cybersecurity space.

Fifty-one economists from 12 Central Banks in the COMESA region have been trained in ‘Analysis of Payments System, Banking Interconnectedness and Systemic Risk using Network Analysis Framework’.

The COMESA Monetary Institute (CMI) organized the training to enhance the implementation of the COMESA Financial System Development and Stability Plan.

In the startup’s scene, Africa’s shared-mobility startup, Treepz, is set to launch Business Treepz, a new service aimed at providing staff bus solutions and bus rental service in a structured, accessible, and predictable manner for corporate organisations including companies, schools, tour operators and individuals. 

Ethiopian fintech startup Chapa has launched an online payment gateway that enables businesses to accept payments from people worldwide.

 Kenyan tech firm StepWise has announced the launch of its Software Development Center, ‘Zalda’ to enable and promote inclusion and socio-economic participation, of the underserved communities. 

According to the company which focuses on ICT Training and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Zalda is an outgrowth of StepWise’s Daproim Africa (BPO) and Zalego Academy, (ICT Training and Capacity Building).

Former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph has been appointed as board chair of Kenya agricultural insurtech startup Pula.

The startup was founded in 2015 by Rose Goslinga and Thomas Njeru and has been designing and delivering agricultural insurance and digital products to smallholder farmers in the country.

In the agriculture sector, Regional trade facilitation organisation TradeMark East Africa has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Centre for Agricultural and Bioscience International (CABI) to cement collaboration and working together for the organisations to promote and enhance market access for regional produce.

Elsewhere, A Turkish Company, Doğuş Group, is looking into investing in Rwanda’s hospitality sector by setting up at least three luxury resort hotels.

According to the company, they plan to construct high-end luxury hotels and restaurants in Kigali and Karongi district, especially around the Lake Kivu belt.

Bob Koigi is the East African Region Editor at Africa Business Communities