Chinese solar firms eye bigger slice of Kenyan market

Kenya has some great potential for solar energy production. PHOTO/FILE
Kenya has some great potential for solar energy production. PHOTO/FILE
A vibrant solar lighting market in Kenya has attracted a host of Chinese firms seeking to meet the rising demand for affordable solar lighting systems in the country.

Guangzhou-based manufacturer of integrated solar solutions, Esavior, and Shenzhen Power Solution Limited are among top Chinese solar companies that that have lately indicated their intentions to expand into the country in a bid to tap into lucrative deals in the local market.

In a recent energy and power exhibition held in the capital Nairobi, senior managers from Chinese solar companies expressed optimism on the future of the Kenyan market, saying that the marketplace is tilted in favour of providers of low-priced, but high quality, solar lighting systems.

Susan Lee, vice president of Shenzhen Power Solution, hailed Kenya as a profitable and fast growing market for solar equipment, thanks to its deliberate push toward renewable energy sources.

“Our main focus is in (affordable) household solar solutions. We are scouting for a Kenyan franchise to distribute our products that include solar lanterns, torches and solar study lamps,” Ms Lee said.

On his part, Esavior sales director Leo Leung said that Kenya is a lucrative market for solar technologies as households and industries embrace cleaner energy sources.

Leung said that Kenya had better prospects than most of its African counterparts, with counties being key markets for solar equipment.

“We are in 15 African countries but Kenya has better prospects especially in household solar lighting. County governments and charities are the biggest market for solar panels and LED solar street lights,” he said.

Being close to the equator, most of Kenya, especially the northern arid areas, enjoy strong sunshine all year round giving the country some great potential for solar energy production.

The country, which receives insolation of 4-6Wh/m2 daily, is a global leader in the total sum of solar systems installed per capita as high costs continue to lock out many Kenyans from the national power grid.

In a bid to promote the use of clean energy, Kenya has put in place regulatory and policy incentives such as zero rating import duty and removing Value Added Tax (VAT) on all imported renewable energy systems.