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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta launched a 50 MW solar power plant in Garissa, in the northeast region, one of Africa’s largest photovoltaic power plants on Friday.

The project was designed and constructed by EPC contractor China Jiangxi International Economic and Technical Cooperation Corporation (CJIC) and Kenya Rural Energy Administration (REA).

The solar power plant put Kenya on the road to green energy adequacy, as this East African country also operates one of the largest wind farms on the African continent.

Kenyatta said at the press conference that the plant is a large-scale solar installation in East and Central Africa, making Kenya a center of green energy production in Africa, thereby increasing Kenya’s visibility.

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At the press conference, Kenyatta noted that the power plant bordering Somalia is part of the government’s extensive renewable energy strategy, which aims to collect 400 megawatts of electricity from the country’s vast solar energy.

He announced that Garissa, which previously relied on unstable thermal power, is now fully connected to the national grid.

Kenyatta added that his government will continue to launch various development projects across the country to help the people.

“We want the funds allocated for development to be used for the right projects, not the pockets of a few people. You people are our employers and you have the right to ask us to be leaders to ensure that your funds are used properly”, Kenya Tower said.

He said the government is keen to close the development gap between regions in the country.

“I see the existing gap is closing,” Kenyatta said. From Moyal to Namanga, from Mombasa to Lake Victoria, we are unifying our country. ”

REA CEO Peter Mbugua said the project was commissioned in November 2018 and that it started generating electricity last year.

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“It covers 210 acres and solar panels cover 120 acres,” Mbugua said.

He noted that during construction, the company dug a wellbore for the community, and that the project employed about 600 people.

“The first beneficiaries of the project were the people of Garissa. The county now has more stable power.”

Mbugua said the project was funded by an intergovernmental agreement between Kenya and China. Equipment and technology come from China.

“We will be bigger in the renewable energy sector, especially in cooperation with counties. We have completed up to 26 micro-grids, mainly in northern Kenya, and only two are awaiting commissioning,” he said.

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Zhang Jian, CJIC’s national representative in Kenya, said the project started in 2017 and was completed within one year.

He added: “The project has an annual power generation of 100,000 MWh. I am proud that the project has been successfully completed and has the most advanced equipment. We hope that it will serve Kenya in the next 25 years.”

Zhang said that the company trained 50 local experts during the project to be responsible for the installation, operation and maintenance of solar panels.

Kenya is rich in solar energy and the amount of solar radiation available every year, and has broad prospects for solar energy development.

The project meets the electricity needs of 70,000 households (approximately 350,000 people) in Kenya, equivalent to 50% of Garissa’s population.

Garissa’s local economic growth is expected to gain momentum from new energy sources, thereby alleviating environmental pressures.

For many years, Kenya has been highly dependent on hydropower, which accounts for about 50% of total electricity supply. In the dry season, restrictions on hydropower capacity have severely affected national power supplies.

The development of solar energy is in line with Kenya’s national policy of environmental protection and energy conservation.

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