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The UK has announced £52 million worth of funding for a solar power plant in Kenya. The project’s construction is expected to start this year, and power will come online in 2020, the British government said in a statement.

UK invests into African energy projectsThe solar project will be run by British-headquartered power company Globeleq, and funded by CDC, the UK’s development finance institution. It will be built in the Malindi region in South East Kenya, which currently struggles with regular power shortages and relies largely on expensive thermal plants. Up to 250 direct jobs are expected to be created, with a further 5600 jobs in the wider economy supported thanks to the availability of power.

The announcement was made on a recent visit to the country by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, where he participated in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event to help find Kenya’s next budding entrepreneur.

As part of a UK aid funded programme, 10 shortlisted candidates pitched to the Foreign Secretary and a panel of entrepreneurs and innovators for the chance to access up to £100 000 each in grant funding and technical assistance. The winners were Ten Senses Africa, TakaTaka Solutions, Lynk Jobs Limited, Savanna Circuit and Build Her.

“As a former entrepreneur myself, I have been inspired by the dynamic and talented businessmen and women I have met in Kenya, and look forward to seeing their fantastic companies become the household names of the future,” Hunt said.

The UK-funded Energy Security and Resource Efficiency in Somaliland (ESRES) programme has also announced a new investment into African energy. A new, second phase of ESRES will expand its investment in renewable energy through the Somaliland Renewable Energy Fund (SREF). This investment will help increase affordability and accessibility through lower tariffs and more connections. ESRES II will partner with local energy service providers to develop hybrid mini grids through a cost sharing arrangement.

During ESRES Phase 1, the programme supported the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (MoEM) to develop a policy and regulatory framework and implemented a pilot to establish six hybrid mini-grids that are now fully operational across Somaliland.

“The biggest beneficiary of this new phase of ESRES will be the people of Somaliland who will now pay significantly less for their electricity. Building on the successes of the first phase of the programme, we believe this new phase will help promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty in Somaliland,” says Phil Evans, Head of DFID in Somalia.

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