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Microgrid firm Powerhive becomes Kenya’s first private utility

A Powerhive microgrid combining solar and storage. Image credit: Powerhive.
Microgrid developer Powerhive has become the first private utility in Kenya after being granted a licence to sell electricity to the public.

The company’s East Africa subsidiary has been running pilot schemes in four villages over the course of the last two years.

The concession will be used to expand Powergrid’s presence to Kisii and Nyamira counties in western Kenya to provide power to those living beyond the reach of the national grid.

“The Powerhive permit was granted in recognition of the fact that grid expansion is not always the most economical choice to expand energy access; off-grid alternatives have a role to play,” wrote Dr. Frederick Nyang, director of economic regulation for the Kenya Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) wrote in a letter to mark the decision. “[Powerhive has demonstrated] that its microgrids are capable of operating in compliance with the prescribed standards for residential and commercial electricity service provision,” he added.

“The government of Kenya recognises that the fastest and least expensive approach to reach 100% electricity access is to allow private investment in distributed generation infrastructure,” said Zachary Ayieko, managing director, Powerhive East Africa. “Other national governments aggressively pursuing rural electrification targets can also benefit greatly by using Powerhive’s energy access solution,” he claimed.

According to the data from the World Bank only 23% of Kenya has access to electricity putting it behind Sudan and North Korea.

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