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Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in the Energy Sector

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Gender, as defined by Dr. Kuthea Nguti, the Academic Director for ‘We Create’, an entrepreneurship training programme for needy youth in Kenya and a faculty member in the Strathmore University Business School, refers to the roles and behaviours or societies or groups assigned to or expected of women or men. Gender roles, she continues, are patterns where women have one set of roles and responsibilities, and men have another regardless of their skills and interests. These were part of the opening remarks by Dr. Nguti during an online training on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in the Energy Sector held on 26th August 2021. The training, supported by UKPACT, will  enable the project team apply GESI perspective in the development of the Narok County Energy Plan.

 

Our cultural beliefs

Due to our upbringing, each one of us naturally possesses certain beliefs. Culturally, taking the Kenyan context, women were assigned roles of household chores while carrying of loads, performing mechanical jobs, and providing for the family were assigned to men. Naturally this extended to how they evolved into their careers as women were expected to do lighter jobs. In the Greek culture, Dimitris Mentris, Senior Energy Geographer, Energy Access and Project Lead, Energy Access Explorer at World Resources Institute, remembers being taught that men should be strong, make decisions, be highly technically trained, and never cry. Indeed, our cultural beliefs play a big role in how we view gender.

 

Unlearning our gender beliefs

Gender equality therefore refers to equality under the law, equality of opportunity which includes rewards for work, equality of access to human capital and other productive resources and equality of voice that allows one the ability to influence and contribute to the development process. Further, social inclusion refers to equal access to resources and influence for all people, regardless of sex, disability, economic status, ethnicity religion or language.

 

The training unpacked practical ways we can unlearn our gender beliefs and integrate gender into energy operations using a four-step plan that included a gender assessment, a gender action plan, implementation and monitoring, and finally completion and evaluation. The gender assessment should include the how. Here one uses the already existing literature to understand the current situation in the context they will be collecting data. For example, one can use gender briefing notes on the energy sector. Secondly, one needs to develop a gender action plan aligned to the national gender action plan. The gender assessment should assist the team develop a project design. Thirdly, strengthen the project’s implementation and monitoring plan. One way to do this is through capacity building for gender focal points. Finally, provide a report which includes an analysis of the gender-related impacts and outcomes.

 

This training will assist the different partners collaboratively work with the Narok County government to develop a data-driven energy plan to increase access to clean energy which is linked to Sustainable Development Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. The project team are now better equipped in applying the GESI lens in the Narok County Plan project and other energy projects including development and application of research tools as well as reporting.

 

This project is funded by UKPACT and is led by Sarah Odera.

 

The article was written by Ms. Anne Njeri the Communications Officer at Strathmore Energy Research Centre. You can contact us at serc@strathmore.edu for further information.

Green Jobs Creation in Kenya

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Globally the population continues to grow at 1% while in Africa it is estimated that by 2050 the population will double. Further, half of the population in Africa is below 25 years and are at the onset of their careers. Africa is also one of the top ten fastest growing economies with East Africa growing at 5% annually. The implication of this is rapid urbanization leading to higher demands in all sectors. It is thus important for Kenya to link job creation, decent work and the green economy that is emerging and creating green jobs.

 

Green jobs as defined by the International Labour Organisation are decent jobs in any economic sector which contribute to preserving, restoring, and enhancing environmental quality by improving energy, raw materials, and water efficiency. This type of job should increase efficient consumption of energy and raw materials; it limits greenhouse gas emissions, minimizes waste and contamination; protects and restores ecosystems; and contributes to adaptation to climate change.

 

The current situation in Kenya

Prof. Izael Da Silva, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, and Innovation at Strathmore University, reminded us during a webinar held on 28 th July, 2020, that the world is currently in transition in decarbonization, decentralization of energy systems and digitalization of skills. As a nation, Kenya intends to have a green, circular and bio economy by 2030. Therefore, we need to prepare to thrive in this emerging green economy otherwise a crisis is looming if we transition with a minimal workforce. He went on to give the example of Brazil and how they strategically prepared for agri-business, aeronautical engineering and petroleum exploration in the 70’s. Today, Brazil is at the top in agri-business.

 

At Strathmore University, we are looking ahead at the needs of the future. We recently began two new programmes: A Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and a Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Transitions. “We intend to ensure that these courses are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals so that they are ready for the future. As a country, we need to train people at all levels and make them tech savvy so that they can solve future problems,” Prof. Da Silva concluded.

 

The link between green jobs and decent work

Unfortunately, great training does not always equate a decent job. It is therefore paramount that from the onset decency of work is not forgotten which is the norm in emerging areas. A decent job as defined by ILO pays fair income, guarantees a secure form of employment, a safe working environment and ensures equal opportunities including social protection and freedom of workers to express themselves. An ongoing research by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reveals that the overall effects of renewable energy transitions on creating employment and developing the economy while supporting vulnerable groups are positive, noted Dr. Ulrike Ler, the Head of Socioeconomics at the International
Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). However, we need to ensure we maintain high working standards, otherwise the advanced technology will upset both the workforce and the financiers which will affect in the long run staff motivation and funding, she added. Dr. Urlike Ler advises that a company’s renewable energy policy should include decent work. When you handle projects and partnerships, this policy will ensure that those involved are not exploited.

 

The gap in technology transfer

Other than ensuring decency of work, technology transfer is a key component in green job creation. By adapting the best technologies around the world, we shall be able to create more green jobs in Africa. One way of looking at technology transfer is to have people in the country with the skills to be able to work on equipment, technology, and plants that support the green economy and that they can install, use, maintain, repair and re-cycle. Sadly, this is not the case.

 

Dr. Francis Kangure, Institutional Performance, Improvement Unit, RTI International spoke of his experience in the renewable energy industry over the past 10 years. He has seen organisations import equipment, fly in experts to train users on the equipment and assume that technology transfer has taken place. When the technology breaks down, the experts are then flown back in to repair. This leads our engineers to become users or installers because they cannot repair or re-use or produce. This is the gap. As partners in the sector, we need to adopt a different strategy. A complete technology transfer involves training to use, to repair, to produce, to recycle and to modify.

 

The webinar, which was moderated by Ms. Sarah Odera, Ag. Director, Strathmore Energy Research Centre, brought to the forefront areas that need to be tackled to ensure that Kenya is not only a green, circular and a bio economy by 2030 but that all involved in the emerging area have decent jobs with sustainable skills.

 

To listen more on this insightful webinar and tap into the future possibilities, click this link.

 

This article was written by Anne Njeri Njoroge.

Strathmore’s new Masters programme, MSc. in Sustainable Energy Transitions set to transform Energy Sector

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Keynote Speaker, Eng. Naresh Mehta, Managing Director of Prisma Technics Ltd. officiated the launch of the new MSc. in Sustainable Energy Transitions

 

Students pursuing higher education are set to benefit from Strathmore University’s new programme, Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Transitions, that was launched on Friday, 6th August 2021. The Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Transitions (MSc. SET) programme is designed to meet the skills needed by practitioners and policymakers as they embark on initiatives for creating access to clean, affordable, reliable and sustainable energy in Africa. The multi-disciplinary Masters programme will enable students with Engineering, Computer Science, Information Technology, Environmental Science and graduates in science related disciplines to gain a detailed and multi-faceted understanding of the energy ecosystem in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) while developing specialist skills that will enable them to positively contribute to the energy sector.

 

Speaking during the event, Dr. Vincent Ogutu, the Vice Chancellor Designate noted, “Access to affordable and reliable energy is a requirement for socio-economic development. Countries like Kenya report that households particularly in the rural areas are unable to pay for the cost of grid connection despite heavy subsidies received through initiatives like the Last Mile Connectivity Project. This is just one among many other challenges which require a multi-disciplinary approach to solutions, that considers technologies, policy, regulations, entrepreneurship, markets and economics.”

 

While admitting that the programme has come at an opportune time, Dr. Ogutu added that the course is a milestone in the trajectory of Strathmore University, “As we continue to shape global professions for the future by introducing market-oriented courses, more so in a continent that has many pressing development needs that require skilled, innovative and ethical professionals who will greatly contribute to creating a sustainable ecosystem.” Since its inception, the University has carved out a specific niche, which has informed the development and delivery of all its programmes. All Strathmore’s graduate and undergraduate programmes integrate the necessary skills and competencies for the formation of well-rounded, ethical leaders capable of contributing to social development through their service to society. Among the necessary skills required for this goal are innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship while leveraging on already established partnerships and linkages with global partners and collaborators.

 

Prof. Izael Da Silva, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation reiterated on the transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon by2030. “This programme provides smart solutions and is deeply rooted on the essential 3 D’s of energy which are decentralization, de-carbonization and digitalization of energy systems.”

 

The launch ceremony was officiated by Eng. Naresh Mehta, Managing Director of Prisma Technics Ltd. Speaking to the need for developing a skilled workforce, Eng. Mehta lauded the University for taking the bold step in aligning its programmes to the Sustainable Development Goals. “This course supports the attainment of access to clean and affordable energy through Sustainable Development Goal 7. In addition, it provides a ready solution for the dire need to develop human capital for energy projects geared towards enhancing energy access by 2030 as well as build expertise to support the mega Infrastructure Development in Africa by the African Union.”

 

The launch event provided a platform for the awarding of scholarships, through a grant courtesy of Transforming Energy Access – Learning Partnership (TEA-LP), to candidates who met the admission criteria. This novel programme, with a partnership between eight African universities and a curriculum that is locally and internationally designed by industry players, is set to transform the energy sector by equipping early career graduates with technical skills and competencies to foster multi-disciplinary thinking that will enable them to develop sustainable energy transition solutions that respond to challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

To apply or know more about the programme, click this link: https://strathmore.edu/msc-sustainable-energy-transitions/

 

This article was written by Martha Ogonjo.

 

What’s your story? We’d like to hear it. Contact us via communications@strathmore.edu.

UK PACT supports Kenya’s low-carbon and inclusive green growth ambition with £3.7 million funding

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The Kenya-UK Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions (Kenya-UK PACT) programme is delighted to announce that eight transformational projects have been awarded £3.7 million. These projects will support Kenya’s transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth.

 

The Kenya-UK PACT portfolio spans two priority sectors: energy and nature-based solutions.In the energy sector, UK PACT will be contributing to clean energy transitions and the development of off-grid community renewable energy sources through six projects. This will involve working closely with national government, counties and communities to ensure the transition is equitable and leads to the creation of green jobs.

 

In the nature-based solutions sector, UK PACT is supporting two projects. Both projects will support sustainable livelihood opportunities within landscape restoration. Additionally, one of the projects will focus on developing capacities for climate monitoring, reporting and verification.

 

The projects address the capacity-building needs of national, provincial and municipal government stakeholders. They will be implemented by a range of local and international organisations from the private and non-governmental sector, civil society and academia. All of the new UK PACT projects in Kenya support the UK COP26 Presidency objectives of accelerating a global transition to clean power that benefits jobs, workers, and communities and of protecting and restoring nature for the benefit of people and climate.

 

UK PACT energy sector projects:

  • Ricardo AEA will work with Baringo, Migori and Tana River county governments, developing bottom-up, decentralised approaches to improve electricity planning and promoting investment into low-carbon electricity generation.
  • IIED will develop inclusive, cross-sectoral energy projects with Kitui County which demonstrate how County Energy Plans can drive the development of low-carbon power to serve priority economic sectors.
  • KPMG will work with the Ministry of Energy to develop an off-grid solar electrification programme to detail the methodology, activities and budgets required towards achieving universal access to electricity through standalone solar systems.
  • Strathmore University will work collaboratively with the Narok county government to develop a data-driven energy plan to increase access to clean energy.
  • The University of Birmingham project will design and demonstrate community cooling hubs to affordably meet a portfolio of rural community cooling needs, including food, health, and human comfort, whilst reducing emissions.
  • The University of Edinburgh will co-design mini-grid energy models with selected rural communities to provide access to sustainable and affordable energy supplies from multiple local renewable energy sources.

UK PACT nature-based projects:

  • World Agroforestry (ICRAF) will co-design locally relevant forestry restoration practices that work alongside crop and livestock farming systems, while enabling a national task force to monitor, report and verify (MRV) restoration outcomes.
  • WWF will build on the Kaptagat integrated landscape restoration plan by training communities in agroforestry and climate-smart agricultural practices, providing employment and subsistence alternatives to unsustainable forest management practices.

This project portfolio will support a green, clean and resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya and the aims of COP26, hosted by the UK in Glasgow this November, accelerating action to rise to the challenges of climate change.

 

UK PACT is a £70m flagship programme funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It is part of the UK’s £11.6bn International Climate Finance commitment between 2021/22 and 2025/26, which is the UK’s primary international instrument to help deliver on the Paris Climate Agreement goals. It is one of the vital tools we are deploying to tackle climate change internationally and support the UK’s COP26 Presidency objectives.

 

Through its grants, UK PACT aims to improve the capacity and capability of key public, private and civil society institutions to reduce emissions and foster inclusive economic growth in partner countries, including Kenya. Read more about the Kenya-UK PACT portfolio on our web page.

 

Full list of projects and implementing partners delivering the projects in Kenya:

Name of the project Lead implementing partner Consortium partner
Enabling green development and recovery in Kitui County through energy planning IIED Caritas Kitui;
Loughborough University
Design of the national off-grid solar electrification programme KPMG n/a
Kenya Counties Programme for Decentralised Energy Systems (CODES) – County energy plan toolkit Ricardo AEA Kenya Climate Change Working Group
Energy planning tools and data-driven policy-making in Narok County Strathmore University World Resources Institute
RESILIENT Kenya The University of Edinburgh University of Bath; UK
Strathmore University; Kenya
World Vision Kenya;
Kenya Powerhive East Africa Ltd; Kenya
Community Cooling Hub (CCH) University of Birmingham London South Bank University (LSBU); UK
African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS); Kenya
Promoting nature-based solutions and national monitoring for land restoration World Agroforestry (ICRAF) World Resources Institute
Greening Kaptagat WWF-UK WWF-Kenya;
Eliud Kipchoge Foundation (EKF)

 

This article was first published by UK PACT here on 27th July, 2021.

 

What’s your story? We’d like to hear it. Contact us via communications@strathmore.edu

Strathmore to Set Up UNESCO Chair to Address Climate Change

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved Strathmore University’s proposal to set up a UNESCO Chair for Climate Change Resilience and Sustainability. Slated to last five renewable years, the chair will encompass the disciplines of climate change adaptation and mitigation, access to electricity, energy efficiency, education of youth and women, and public policy.

 

Future of our planet

 

The project will be led by Professor Izael Pereira Da Silva, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Strathmore University. Prof Da Silva’s main research focus is sustainable development and energy. Having worked in this field for many years now, he believes climate change should be of paramount importance for all who are concerned with the future of the planet.

 

Speaking following the approval, Dr. Evangeline Njoka, the Secretary General of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, said, “Climate change is an emerging issue that manifests itself in ways that affect sustainable development. It not only threatens the survival of mankind, economies, and the environment, but also compromises the ability of most countries and the global community to achieve developmental targets.”

 

Prof Ramasamy Jayakumar, Head of the Natural Sciences Sector at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, also congratulated the university. “This is a very important milestone for Africa,” he said. “It focuses on three important interlinked Sustainable Development Goals, namely Zero Hunger, Clean Water and Sanitation, and Affordable and Clean Energy.” To achieve the overall goal of climate sustainability, he explained, it is necessary for these three sectors to be concurrently developed.

 

Weather the climate change storm

 

Through the new UNESCO chair, Prof Da Silva plans to collaborate with the government, development agencies, the private sector, and academia, to develop and disseminate transformative ideas and innovations within its subject areas. Through this work, the project will help societies weather and thrive through the negative effects of climate change.

 

The project places a special emphasis on Africa, which, though a minor contributor to global climate change, stands to suffer some of its worst effects, such as prolonged droughts and erratic floods. This imbalance calls for concerted scholarly efforts to develop strategies to mitigate these effects. Beyond clarifying and implementing existing climate-related policies, more must be done to curb the dangers of climate change while promoting resilience.

 

Through the project, Prof Da Silva also hopes to improve the understanding of ordinary people regarding climate change. Above all, he aims to inspire young people to take on the challenge of steering the future of the planet for the benefit of everyone. “I plan to train the next generation so that they can take care of our common home better than the current generation,” he says.

 

The UNESCO/ UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking) Chairs Programme was launched in 1992 to promote international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities, through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. Currently, eight universities in Kenya have UNESCO Chairs.

 

This article was written by Namachanja Ashley Nasambu, a third year Bachelor of Arts in Communication student.