Chinese and Kenyan investors on Friday launched a technology transfer and training center to promote assembling of solar lighting systems so as to meet a huge demand for green energy sources in the East African nation.
Executives said the China-Kenya Solid State Lighting Technology Transfer Center, based in an industrial park near the capital Nairobi, will spur growth of a homegrown solar industry in the country.
"Our partnership with a Chinese firm will facilitate the establishment of a local assembly plant for solar products. The new center will expose Kenyan technicians to the latest solar solutions," said Maina Maringa, Director with Sunyale Africa Limited, which launched the center in partnership with a Beijing- based company.
Established 2014, Sunyale Africa is a leading player in the nascent solar technology market in Kenya. Both Chinese and Kenyan investors have stakes in the company that supplies affordable and high quality solar lighting systems to households, schools, hospitals and business premises.
"The Chinese are really helping us in terms of technology and information sharing. We think after some time doing this, we can gain a lot," said Robert Kipkorir, an engineer and one of eight trainees currently at the newly-launched center.
"If I earn the chance and capital, I would like start something for myself. With the knowledge I've gained from here, I would be able to do things of my own in this field," he added.
Newton Mhae, another trainee, said the technology is updated at the center, which can prepare them to learn the new machinery as well as develop new skills.
"I am going to use the technology I learned here to impart the community, especially on the solar panels," said Mhae.
Chinese investors are optimistic about the growth of renewable energy sector in Kenya thanks to a friendly policy and regulatory environment.
Dang Song, CEO of Sunyale Africa, said the nascent solar industry in Kenya has potential for growth given its foreign direct investments and availability of skilled workforce.
"We import solar products and assemble them in a factory outside Nairobi. Our partnership with Kenyan investors has made it possible to train local technicians on assembling solar lighting systems," Dang said, adding that the center will enable Kenya to realize green aspirations in line with vision 2030 blue print.
"There is a huge market for solar solutions in rural areas and urban slums. The new center will help meet this demand through assembling of state-of-the-art solar lighting systems for households and institutions," he said.
Maringa told Xinhua Sunyale Africa has a strong presence in seven Kenyan counties where solar energy has transformed livelihoods.
"Our goal is to fill renewable energy gap in the country through supply of cheap but durable solar solutions. Government incentives that include waiver on import duty for solar panels has made this possible," said the director.
He revealed that demand for large scale solar lighting systems among small factories has spiked recently in Kenya, and Sunyale Africa has adopted social entrepreneurship model to promote access to solar energy among the rural and urban poor.
"We are keen on the east African market where demand for solar products is on the rise," said Maringa, adding that they also plan at advanced stage to venture into neighboring countries.