17 June, 2023 Member article

HydroBox Supports Hydroelectric Power Production In Remote Villages

ARE Member HydroBox has plans to support the production of hydroelectric power in some of the local villages in remote areas. The Chief Executive Officer of HydroBox, Mr. Thomas Poelmans, has said that by the year 2027, they are targeting to connect more than one million Kenyans to locally produced hydropower.

He observed that his organisation would continue funding small hydropower projects in villages to assist the less disadvantaged in their respective localities with cheap electric power. The CEO spoke on Friday during the launch of the Gitugi Hydropower Plant, previously known as Magiro Power Station, in Mathioya Sub County. The power plant with a capacity to generate about 640 kilowatts was innovated by a local resident, Joseph Magiro, a few years ago but later got a boost to also tap solar power. Poelmans observed that with their input, they managed to improve Magiro’s power plant from generating 47 kilowatts to the current situation where the plant located along the River Mathioya now produces power to connect more than 3, 000 end-users.

The CEO said by the end of this year they would sponsor three other similar projects in Murang’a County, which in total would have the capacity to produce more than 1 megawatt. “My organisation is working to ensure those in rural areas and those who cannot access electric power from the national grid can access locally produced electric power. The projects are hybrid, meaning that they can generate power from water and also get a complement from solar panels. Such projects will ensure the disadvantages in society also get connected to electric power,” explained Poelmans.

The CEO said that despite electrification in Kenya being high, at around 70 per cent coverage, there were still some rural areas which had no access to electric power. He noted that by supporting innovations like that of Magiro, individuals and institutions that Kenya Power Company has not reached could access power. “Power produced at these local stations is cheap by about 20 percent compared to the rates charged by KPC. The innovations can go a long way to complement what the government is doing to avail power to the majority of Kenyans,” he added.

His sentiments were echoed by the Chief Executive Officer of NETFUND Group, Mr. Samon Toniok, who praised Magiro’s innovation, which has seen more than 300 local homesteads get power connections. NETFUND, he said, came in to support the initiative by providing some needed materials to ensure the power plant increases hydropower production. “On our part, we sponsored making the plant hybrid by tapping solar to increase the number of kilowatts produced. I request other organisations to sponsor such innovations as they are aimed at solving some challenges facing common Mwananchi,” said Toniok. He continued, “We appeal for similar stations to be done in areas with this kind of topography and permanent rivers.” This will ensure production of clean energy as well as mitigation of climate change since our trees will be spared from being sourced as fuel.”

On his part, Magiro said his idea to come up with the power station was influenced by a bicycle dynamo. He mobilised resources and tapped water from the local river, where he initially produced seven kilowatts. He said he would continue to partner with more organisations to increase the production of power and supply it to more end users. “Currently, the power being produced is greater than the one needed by customers. “I am seeking support to enable families which are as far away as five kilometers from the power plant to get connected to electricity,” added Magiro.