2 February, 2023 Member article

Renewvia launches joint venture with Okapi Green Energy Ltd. to deliver clean and affordable energy to Kenya’s refugees

25 January 2023 – ARE Member Renewvia, a leading global solar energy microgrid developer, has partnered with Okapi Green Energy (Okapi) Ltd to launch a Joint Venture, OkRene Energy, to deliver clean and affordable electricity through a financially sustainable model to the community residing within the Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya’s second-largest refugee camp.

Together, Renewvia and Okapi will design, finance, install and operate a scalable, innovative solar mini-grid system, expanding access to power from 200 people to up to 15,000 living within the Kakuma III section of the refugee camp. OkRene Energy will exclusively provide power to Kakuma III through a 20-year license.

Renewvia will bring to the joint venture the funding, experience and expertise that will ensure the successful delivery of service. Okapi will take responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the solar minigrid system as well as the training and skills development of local workers to support the grid and power generation.

Working with a skilled and capable local partner in displaced communities exponentially increases chances of success for scalable power projects

The project is expected to take one year to complete. The initial phase will be to build the infrastructure and expand the grid that will serve 15,000 customers; the installed capacity will increase over time as demand grows.

The Kakuma Refugee Camp, established in 1992, is located in the north-western territory of Turkana County and is divided into four parts (Kakuma I-IV). The Kenyan Department of Refugee Services (DRS) manages the camp in conjunction with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. There are over 19 nationalities living in the Kakuma refugee camp, with over 54% of the population originating from South Sudan. Households, micro and small businesses, schools and social institutions will benefit from the OkRene Energy mini-grid development.

Okapi Green Energy Ltd was established in 2018 to help bring electrification to the refugee camp by resident Vasco Hamisi, a Congolese refugee who arrived in Kakuma in 2010. The company obtained the license to operate in the camp in 2021. The United States African Development Foundation, an independent United States government agency, partially funded the first phase connection of 200 clients, commissioned with Renewvia in late 2022.

Vasco Hamisi, Chief Executive, Okapi Green Ltd said, “The majority of our community, to date, has had to rely on expensive, unstable and unreliable sources of power. Our first phase saw us initiate the first step towards change, by connecting 1% of the 200,000 residents. Energy is one of the key engines for the economic growth of any society as it forms the basic blocks on which socio-economic development can be established. Providing access to energy for refugees is a critical enabler for basic and essential services. This next phase will be transformational”

Commenting on the alliance, Trey Jarrard, CEO of Renewvia, said, “Working with a skilled and capable local partner in displaced communities exponentially increases chances of success for scalable power projects. Okapi Energy brings an ability to efficiently develop and operate a minigrid system, reliably connecting the community and supporting the economic needs of those living in displaced settings. Renewvia is enthusiastic about expanding the relationship with Okapi Energy and replicating the structure in other displaced settlements and camps”.