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Imported lights power Kenya homes

Updated: 2023-09-30 06:58
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People walk inside the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya September 21, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

NAIROBI — In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, traders from across the country converge at a shopping district known as Nyamakima, which houses the largest network of shops selling electronic and electrical products imported from China.

Shopkeepers import commodities in bulk from China and sell them to other traders, sending parcels via bulk couriers to all parts of the country, including to the neighboring countries of Uganda and South Sudan.

What is, however, most noticeable in most of these shops are the solar floodlights displayed prominently.

"There are likely two reasons why demand for solar floodlights has increased tremendously in recent times. One is that more Kenyans are building new homes on plots measuring 40 by 80 feet in urban areas. So they want those homes to have well-lit compounds and pathways for better utilization of the small space and better security," said Mohamed Yusuf, a shop owner along Duruma Road in the Nyamakima area.

"The other reason is that the cost of solar floodlights is dropping. Five years ago, a 200-watt solar floodlight would cost $100. It dropped to half that price two years ago. Now a similar one costs $30."

Fast-moving products

Yusuf specializes in selling solar floodlights manufactured by Chinese company Itel. Many other brands are available in the Nyamakima shopping district. He said the sales of solar floodlights has increased by 60 percent to 70 percent in the past two years. "It is a fast-moving product now," he said.

In Kenya's e-commerce shops and on platforms such as Solar Store, Jiji, Mybigorder, and through individuals selling on their social media pages, solar floodlights are prominently advertised, indicating a growing demand for them. Consumers are the main beneficiaries as competition among sellers has led to a significant price reduction and an increase in the number of brands in the market.

The growing demand for solar floodlights is reflective of Kenya's appetite for solar lighting solutions.

For instance, the installed capacity for solar on the national grid reached 210 megawatts this year, according to Kenya Power. This is in addition to the massive off-grid solar lighting projects developed by both the government and the private sector. In August, Kenya Power invited tenders for replacing all its diesel-powered off-grid power plants with mini-grid solar projects.


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