Strathmore Team selected for “Initiate! Impact Challenge” at African Utility Week.

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From 14th to 16th May, a team of postgraduates will represent Strathmore University at the “Initiate! Impact Challenge” at this year’s African Utility Week. Fredrick Amariati, Ignatius Maranga, Raymond Kiyegga and Alex Osunga were the candidates selected to represent the university at the annual event hosted in Cape Town, South Africa. The four emerged with the best abstracts out of all the other applicants from the university, which are chosen by a panel from the event.


“We are looking at reducing the cost of having solutions that work for single houses and going for communities coming together to fund a solar solution that can give them energy and electricity,” says Raymond Kiyegga, in response to what the project they are presenting is about.


The Initiate! 3-day challenge is for postgraduate students enrolled at Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand and Strathmore University. It involves completing a series of challenges that will enable the contestants to immerse themselves in the conference and exhibition while sourcing opinions from experts and pooling ideas from conference sessions. The team hopes to interact with mentors and key players in the sector for guidance and ways to improve their project. According to Fredrick Amariati, “We would like to know what is happening in other universities, learn from what they are doing, know what innovations are coming up in the sector and incorporate it with what we are doing.”


The 19th annual African Utility Week is the leading conference and trade exhibition for African power, energy and water professionals. This year’s event brings in the addition of POWERGEN Africa, expanding focus on generation (Including renewables, off grid) while still concentrating on transmission and distribution, new technologies (including storage, mini grids, IOT and ICT systems) and, of course, water.


“There will be various utility companies from Africa showcasing their technology, innovations and products. We hope to understand their needs, products and challenges, and this should help with the solution we are coming up with.” Ignatius Maranga


Two of the candidates, Ignatius Maranga and Fredrick Amariati, are Open Africa Power 2018 alumni. Open Africa Power is a programme about renewable energy. It was founded by the NL Foundation, of which Strathmore is the main implementing partner. Its main objective is to forge the next generation of clean energy leaders for Africa.


On the last day of the “Initiate! Impact Challenge”, the teams will be invited to pitch their innovations to a prestigious committee of judges and the winning team walks away with a prize of R20,000.


This article was written by Christine Mukasa


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Strathmore University signs MoU with KETRACO

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On Wednesday 8th March, Strathmore University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO) at their main offices in Nairobi. The University was represented by Prof Izael da Silva and Sarah Odera, Director at Strathmore Energy Research Centre. While FCPA Fernandes Barasa, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, signed on behalf of KETRACO. The MoU is a platform for collaborative research, workshops, capacity building, inventions.


“Strathmore University is the only university with a well-developed research center, and as part of our mandate, we promote the use of green energy, an area Strathmore is well established in,” says David Ndwinga, Director of the research department at KETRACO. Being the only organization that transmits electricity in Kenya, KETRACOserves as an information hub for the research center at the university. The signing of this document signifies a collaboration in which Strathmore University provides research, and KETRACO provides the practical aspect of electricity transmission.


“Partnering with an off-taker of our research work will enable us to conduct relevant research projects for the energy sector,” said Sarah Odera.


The MoU was signed in the light of KETRACO’s recently established research department. The company is keen on strategic partnerships, in the areas of energy transmissions, and energy efficiency among others. Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO) was incorporated in December 2008; and registered under the Companies Act, Cap 486 pursuant to Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2004 on Energy.  It is government owned and is regulated under the State Corporations Act, Cap 446 and Energy Act, 2006.


“When the government and Research and Development (Strathmore) come together, we are able to revolutionize the industry.” Prof Izael de Silva


This article was written by Christine Mukasa.


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Impact of Solar Cooling in Kenya and Agricultural Value Chains

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In the 2017 approximately 61 Billion was lost from the following agricultural value chains; Irish potatoes, milk, millet, beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes and sorghum. The reason for this loss was; poor storage, transport and fungi attack. According to standard media article, a third of the food produced is lost yearly. Kenya is currently grappling with the possibility of a countrywide drought.

A few solutions have been recommended to solve the postharvest losses in Kenya but the response is not taken up positively because of the following reasons;

  • The technology is not locally available due to cost.
  • Skills transfer to the locals is not done efficiently and managing such systems becomes problematic.
  • The areas where these technologies are needed most, there is no grid connection to electricity.

Urgent areas that are crucial and prime for solutions in solar cooling are;

  • Fish
  • Tomatoes
  • Mangoes
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Milk

In a bid to solve these problems; Strathmore University Energy Research Centre partnered with Hohenheim University funded by Powering Agriculture have held a workshop to sensitize on possible research on solar cooling technologies in Kenya and how to increase agricultural productivity in Kenya. During the workshop; various technologies were introduced that could meet different needs and solve different functions as follows;

  • Solar Ice maker – Primarily makes approximately 54 kg of ice
  • Battery free refrigerator – it is solar powered, makes use of icepacks to keep the products at 4C
  • Water Chiller – battery powered, converts water to ice.

Applications of the technologies above are the following but not restricted to;

  • Milk cooling
  • Vegetable and fruit preservation in cold rooms for storage as well as in transportation trucks.
  • Fridges for soft drink vendors.
  • Use of the solar coolers to keep biological elements below freezing point.
  • Air Conditioning in the event of very hot days, the water chiller functions as an air cooler but works best in closed spaces.

A synergy with SERC will ensure more research into other functions that the technology can be used for. More so introduction of this technology in pre-existing value chains that need boosting and optimization. Other possible areas of synergy include working with the Energy Regulatory Commission to get subsidies for this technology.  The milk cooling application has been tried in Siaya and Kisumu and the results have been very positive. Upon introduction of the systems, notable changes were as follows;

  • More milk was getting to the cooperatives in the evening.
  • More milk delivered meant more money to the farmers.
  • There was a considerable improvement in the livelihoods of the women involved in the project.

The success of these systems was pegged on the following;

  • Good training of the people of the ground.
  • There was a sense of ownership of the project by the farmers.
  • Willingness of the farmers to try the new technology.

Milk is but one of the value chains in the agricultural sector. Research in the rest of the agricultural value chains will unlock future partnered researches between SERC and Hohenheim University. This will also see SERC possibly start a course in Solar Cooling to build capacity on solar cooling.