Project summary

Two proposed run-of-river hydropower plants in rural Kenya will provide a total installed capacity of nearly 10MW, with far-reaching benefits.

Under plans by rural utility developer Virunga Power, the 6MW Middle Nzoia plant will be built on the Nzoia River in western Kenya, while the 4MW Gitugi plant will be on the Mathioya South River in the central region.

The projects are both being developed under Kenya’s Small-Scale Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff programme, and are being supported with US$751,000 development capital funding from the Camco-managed REPP climate fund. Once built, they will be among the country’s first – and largest – privately developed grid-connected small hydropower installations.

Community support, as well as co-ownership and long-term benefits to the community, are all central to the Nairobi-based developer’s busi­ness model, and both hydro projects will be developed in collaboration with local community organisations.

The plants are expected to create around 600 jobs during construction, and a further 30 jobs when operational. Direct community ownership and participation will ensure dividends and other long-term and sustainable socio-economic benefits flow to local rural communities.

Completion of the projects will have a strong demonstration effect with­in Kenya and across the East African region, not merely in terms of successful grid-connected small hydropower development, but also as a model for developing such projects in partnership with communities.

Virunga Power’s approach, which seeks to develop financeable projects with both direct and indirect benefits to local communities, is innova­tive, sustainable, and also highly replicable.

“With REPP’s support, Virunga Power is able to accelerate the development of impactful rural energy projects and expects to deliver long-lasting, highly beneficial, and sustainable infrastructure to our Kenyan community partners.”

- Brian Kelly, Founder and MD, Virunga Power