Climate protection: light and energy for Kenya

ERGO and Munich Re have committed to protecting the climate and supporting renewable energy, especially in remote regions.

In recent months two renewable energy projects have been launched: solar kiosks for regions independent from the grid and subsidies for business plans that favour the environment. One of the objectives of the Group's socially responsible activities is to overcome the challenge posed by the climate change. Continue reading to learn about the successful collaboration launched in the fall of 2017 with SOLARKIOSK and Climate-KIC!

The town of Wath Onger, in Migori County, in the west of Kenya, is very far away from the most popular cities for tourism, such as Mombasa or the famous natural park with its characteristic wild life. It is thousands of kilometres away from any of the main cities of the world. If we check the address in the traditional route plans through Africa, they will send us to Nairobi to get on the Trans Sahara Number 1 motorway. The truth is that its seems like a real adventure!

The small huts along the side of the road seem like colour beads of a bracelet. The earth has a red rusty colour, the shelters are interspersed amongst the trees, the goats are graze and there are a lot of children playing. At the beginning of December 2017, on a Tuesday, with temperatures near 30ºC, something very special happened in Wath Onger. County.

A solar kiosk in the middle of a Kenyan field

The local community celebrated the inauguration of a kiosk fed with solar power, called E-HUBB. This project is part of the joint effort between Munich Re and ERGO towards climatic protection.

The region, located in the western side of the country, next to lake Victoria, is dominated by agriculture, and the electricity grid is poorly developed. The electricity produced by a series of solar plates installed on the ceiling allows the local people to recharge their mobile phones, access quality solar products and consumer goods, and even access the internet. 

 

This is a crucial service in the remotest areas of Kenya, where people have to walk for hours, or even days, to arrive at a place that offers power to charge their devices. 

Unlike Europe, Kenya does not have a complete electricity grid, and it only has large-scale power plants. In its place, people in the region mainly use diesel generators to produce electricity. Despite their flexibility, they also produce very damaging emissions. 

Now, thanks to the E-HUBBs, the emissions will be reduced. In addition to producing electricity, this peculiar kiosk sells solar power and other products that could be considered climatic protectors, such as flashlights. By the end of 2017, five E-HUBBs had already been opened with the support of ERGO and Munich Re. 

The villagers agree: the stylish kiosks are definitively a blessing. Not only do they offer the villagers daily food products, such as flour, rice and sugar, but they also store various solar power products, such as lamps, radios and stoves that use up to 50% less firewood. The use of solar products also replaces other fossil fuels, such as diesel or petrol, reducing the harmful CO2 emissions.

The empowerment of women

The pleasant face behind the kiosk's counter belongs to Zainabu Akoth, who is 21 years old and married with children. She already has previous experience taking care of a small store: M-pesa, which had a Kenyan mobile payment system used by 80% of the Kenyan mobile phone users. With this background, Zaina Akoth knows perfectly how important supply is outside the electricity grid. When she heard the plans for the new kiosk, she requested the position and got the job.   

Akoth has planned to go further with her kiosk, that is, not only focusing on general supplies, but also offering to charge mobile phones. She also wants to offer other services, such as a document photocopier and scanner. In addition, the kiosks shelves are full of food and drinks for customers to buy what they need every day without making a huge investment. A series of products that occupy very little space in her solar kiosk. 

Solar power kitchen

Akoth's favourite solar product is a kitchen that works solely on solar power. A radio gives the kiosk a musical touch, and there is a television that runs advertisements of solar products. So, what has the kiosk brought to Wath Onger? “Electricity, light, more shops…”, says Akoth.

“A single E-HUBB can supply energy to 25,000 customers”, explain SOLARKIOSK experts. The company from Berlin is already present in almost a dozen solar kiosks in other parts of Kenya. 

A lot to offer to the village's community

All the kiosk's customers are also contributing to the environment, and its measurable: in the first four months the five E-HUBBs generated approximately 4,200 kWh of clean energy, saving 1,200 Kg of CO2.

In addition, the kiosks have created eleven new jobs: five kiosk managers, five security guards and an area manager. The village elders particularly value this contribution to their community. An elderly person from the village of Sibouche emphasised on how the state benefits from the village as a whole: "A village with an E-HUBB will be perceived as a safe and dynamic market." The competition is also happy. Many neighbouring storekeepers benefit from the customers attracted by these kiosks. 

An initial intermediate review

The E-HUBBs in the five villages have performed very well and are helping convince people to use solar power and products: their contribution to fighting against climate change.