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Chinese solar firms eye Kenyan market amid huge demand for clean energy

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-17 10:52

NAIROBI — Chinese solar firms are keen to venture into the Kenyan market where uptake of cleaner energy sources has accelerated amid policy and regulatory incentives alongside greater awareness on their benefits.

Senior executives from these companies who told Xinhua recently at an energy and power expo held in Nairobi were upbeat about the future of Kenya's market for solar lighting technologies.

Susan Lee, vice president of Shenzhen Power Solution Limited said Kenya presents a lucrative and expanding market for solar equipment as the East African Nation accelerates the shift to renewable energy sources.

"Our main focus in household solar solutions that are affordable but are of high quality. We are scouting for a Kenyan franchise to distribute our products that include solar lanterns, torches and solar study lamps," Lee said.

Shenzhen power solution has established a strong footprint in several African countries in the recent past.

According to Lee, the solar company that was founded 30 years ago has prioritized expansion in Southeast Asia and Africa where millions of poor households are not connected to the national grid.

"In the last eight years, we have invested in solar solutions that are tailor made for populations that are not connected to power. We have a strong presence in many parts of Africa and Asia," said Lee.

Shenzhen Power Solution Ltd is a leading manufacturer of solar LED lighting, solar study lamps and torches that have struck a chord with Kenyan consumers due to their durability and affordable cost.

The company's unique products such as solar lantern with radio and mobile charging capability could provide respite to Kenya's air pollution challenges linked to rampant use of kerosene and wax candles.

"We are here to help Kenyans get rid of indoor pollution associated with kerosene lamps. Our products will help clear smog that is a leading cause of respiratory diseases," she told Xinhua.

She revealed that a solar study lamp and torch will retail for $2 in the Kenyan market while a solar lantern with phone charger will cost $13.

"The idea is to ensure consumers have access to low cost but high quality and durable integrated solar solutions," she said, adding that discussions with additional local distributors are at an advanced stage.

Isaac Mbugua, a local vendor for Shenzhen Power Solution's products since 2015 said Kenyan consumers have been receptive to Chinese manufactured solar technologies.

"Based on my observation, there is a higher demand for solar lighting solutions from China. The products have met our quality benchmarks and so far no customer has complained of breakages," said Mbugua.

He revealed that 80 percent of clients for Shenzhen Power Solution's products like solar lanterns and torches are in rural areas.

Kenya's quest to become a green energy powerhouse has not escaped the attention of well-endowed Chinese solar firms.

Leo Leung, the Sales Director of Guangzhou-based manufacturer of integrated solar solutions, Esavior, said Kenya presents a formidable market for solar technologies as households and industries embrace cleaner energy sources.

"We are already in fifteen African countries but Kenya has better prospects especially in household solar lighting. County governments and charities are the biggest market for solar panels and LED solar street lights," said Leung.

Evans Kamau, a local distributor for Esavior products for the last two years said they are highly rated by household and corporate clients.

"The market has been receptive to our products and currently, we have partnered with five counties to install solar street lights," said Kamau, adding that Esavior's local franchise has the capacity to install up to 10,000 units of solar power.

Chinese manufacturers and distributors of solar technologies are keen to venture into the Kenyan market which promises better returns thanks to rising purchasing power.

Daniel Liu, general manager of Divine New Energy expressed confidence in the Kenyan market, saying it presents new opportunities for investors in green technologies.

"We are looking for partners in Kenya to distribute solar portable lighting equipment that is both durable and cheaper," said Liu.

On her part, business manager of Qingdoo Sunflare New Energy Company Ltd, Lauren Liu said her company is in the process of partnering with a local vendor to distribute solar panels and lanterns.

"Kenya is a big market for solar lighting systems and we are looking for a local distributor to make them accessible to clients at cheaper rates," said Lauren.

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