Solar power takes off in Kenya
The expense and unreliability of electricity supply is fuelling East African interest in solar energy.
In rural Kenya, where there is no electricity, solar systems have proven popular with small-scale businesses and farms, where it is used to power water pumps and lighting.
Solar energy is cheap compared to electricity because, once the necessary equipment has been installed, there is no additional monthly charge.
Additionally solar systems require little maintenance, owing to the lack of moving parts, and solar energy offers "a stable grid quality output without power fluctuations".
Private company Solar World East Africa is set to launch "solar kits" that provide enough power for lighting, charging a mobile phone and operating an FM radio. These packs will cost 3,000 Kenyan shillings each (around US$47).
Another company, Jua Moto Systems, is planning to introduce solar-powered cookers and water heating systems.
But despite this growing interest, "solar power has not been as thoroughly explored as hydroelectric and geothermal power in Kenya … the use of wind and solar energy has remained low, just like in the rest of Africa".