Renewable Energy in Kenya: Italy in the energy challenge for Africa

The involvement of Politecnico di Milano in the conference organised by the Embassy of Italy in Kenya

On 22-23 January, the Embassy of Italy in Kenya organized, in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano and RES4Africa Foundation, “Renewable Energy in Kenya: Unlocking Investments, Innovation and Research. Italian lessons learned and cutting-edge solutions”, a workshop aimed at fostering cooperation between Italy and Kenya in the energetic sector, through education and research.

The seminar proposed a multi-stakeholder discussion of Italian players, dedicated to promoting the Italian excellence of education, research and innovation in the field of renewable energy and development. In this area, Italy can rely on a particularly rich heritage of experiences and competences that includes, in addition to institutional actors, also some small start-up of the private sector, players from the civil society, some key universities and research institutions.

Representing Politecnico di Milano was professor Emanuela Colombo, rector’s delegate for Cooperation and Development.

The pace of change in Africa’s energy sector has quickened. Africa’s economy is expected to rise by around 4% this year. Despite home to the 17% of the growing population, Africa accounts for only 6% of global energy demand, roughly 3% of electricity demand. Even the share of investment accounts only for the 5.5 % of the global investment: 70% on fossil fuel and the remaining 30% equally divided for renewables and electricity networks. Moreover, the Continent accounts for a small but growing 4% of the global CO₂ emissions, with 3/4 made by North Africa and South Africa alone. East Africa looks to be the fastest-expanding region today, led by Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. 

The Africa energy paradox is still alive, since the continent is rich in energy resources with an untapped potential larger than its current and projected consumption. Bioenergy, hydropower, solar and wind power are the crucial one, to which we add in East Africa geothermal resources. To date, Africa has only 50 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity, mostly hydropower (36 GW). 

However, some crucial changes are coming, and Italy is ready to face this challenge. Our Country boasts a wealth of experts in the field of energy who can identify, formulate and validate strategies to combine interventions for the autonomous and local development in the partner countries and for the efficient and effective promotion of the Italian system of culture, education, research, entrepreneurial and industrial innovation.