Rural Electrification Authority installs solar power in 33 schools

The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) in partnership with Davis and Shirtliff has completed a Sh58m project to install solar systems in 33 public primary schools in Tana River and Lamu counties. This will see over 6,000 students in the two coastal counties gain access to electricity as the government moves to equip public primary schools across the country with laptops. The partnership comes as part of the ambitious National Primary School Electrification project initiated in 2013, whose overall aim is the integration of ICT in the curriculum delivery to expand digital skills, as enshrined in the government’s agenda, through connecting 21,158 public schools to electricity, according to the Ministry of Energy. One of many similar undertakings geared towards implementing the government’s flagship laptops project, the installations in Tana River and Lamu counties targeted all primary schools that were more than five kilometers from the grid and could only be powered effectively through the use of solar modules. “As not all schools are close enough to the power grid to pull electricity, there was a need for an alternative and lasting solution. Our partnership with Davis and Shirtliff resulted from the need to power the schools that are off-grid in Tana River and Lamu counties,” said Semeka Ong’ong’a, the REA Project Supervisor for the Tana River and Lamu installations. Following a successful tendering process, Davis and Shirtliff, fitted each of the schools, 18 in Tana River County and 15 in Lamu County, with 14 solar panels and 10 batteries to power three classrooms, one computer classroom, the staffroom and the head teacher’s office. “We have installed the best-in-class solar equipment that will serve the schools for many years to come. The equipment comes with a warranty of 25 years and we will be maintaining it for a year to ensure that it is working at its optimum capacity,” said Norman Chege, the Solar Division Manager at Davis and Shirtliff. Immediately after the commissioning of the project, the schools have seen an increase in the number of students staying in class in the evenings to tackle their assignments. Initially, students would complete their assignments in dimly lit homes, which pose a danger to their eyesight. The schools are also recording an increase in attendance for their adult education programmes, which are carried out in the evening after the regular school day comes to an end.The Davis & Shirtliff project team faced some logistical challenges, largely due to poor road linkage across the counties, mainly in Lamu County, and the distances between the schools. Refer link

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