Efforts to have the world transition to clean energy usage have been going on with focus to reduce global warming, attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants.
Clean energy sources in Kenya revolves around renewable energy, which the country boast of being the most active in Africa. These includes wind power, geothermal power, hydro power, biofuels among others. The country is Africa's first geothermal power producer and leads in the number of solar power systems installed per capita.
To deal with climate change and reduction of global warming effects, the country has been transiting its economy to clean energy usage; including installation of hydro-electric power to rural areas, reduction of carbon emissions by planting trees to meet the 10 per cent forest cover among other initiatives.
Reports shows that 780,000 households and businesses have been supported to access clean energy products including solar panels for lighting and heating in homes, schools and hotels.
However, a gap exists from learning institutions which still uses wood fuel for cooking –cutting trees and deterring efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by the year 2030 under the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).
According to the Clean Cooking Alliance of Kenya (CCAK), 97 per cent of primary and secondary schools use firewood derived from forests as cooking fuel.
This causes alarm, a move that has led to a partnership between the Equity Bank, Education stakeholders, Clean energy stakeholders, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) among other industry players to come with a solution to transition clean energy usage to schools and reduce the use of wood fuel.
The initiative dubbed ‘Clean Cooking Project’ is set to support learning institutions to transition from wood fuel-based cooking to cleaner, sustainable, and environmental sources of cooking and lighting.
This will see schools install modern technologies for cooking that are environmentally safe such as steam-based cooking, biofuels, sustainable biomass and Liquid Petroleum Gas.
Speaking during the launch of the initiative at Alliance High School, Equity Group Managing Director James Mwangi said the bank will provide financing for the equipment and other installation costs based on the institution needs.
"Lack of appropriate financing and innovative technologies has been the biggest barrier to clean energy transition. To close this gap, we have decided to partner with learning institutions to facilitate them access and install more environmentally friendly cooking and lighting facilities," said MD Mwangi.
Mwangi called on institutions and key players in the economy to take note of the initiative and lead in protecting the environment
“We decided to create a more integrated programme to ensure trees would grow to maturity and not be used as an energy source. For us to migrate from wood-based fuel solutions in our institutions, we require a concerted effort from the management of the various institutions, energy technology providers, end-users and government agencies. We encourage institutions and organizations to take this route and lead the way so that we can protect our environment. Equity will walk with you on this journey,” he said.
Presiding over the launch, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha urged all learning institutions to follow suit and embrace clean energy solution and save the country from environmental degradation.
"My call today is for all schools in Kenya to quickly follow suit and embrace clean energy solutions. This will contribute to reversing environmental degradation, save costs and improve health outcomes. If all schools switched to cleaner alternatives, we will not only preserve our trees but will also significantly reduce our carbon footprint," said Prof. Magoha.
Equity is fully committed to ensuring that all learning institutions realize the multiple benefits of modern and clean energy.
Through the foundation, the bank has also partnered with KFS and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for support on tree seedling requirements for different geo-ecological zones, adoption of forest blocks that require rehabilitation and other logistical support.
The company is committed to planting 35 million trees as part of its contribution towards the achievement of 10 per cent forest cover, out of which 20 million will be planted in learning institutions.
So far, Equity has planted 3.2 million trees, 2 million of which have been planted in 2,133 schools across the country.