IREK Working Paper No. 5

Policies and practice for enhanced capabilities in the renewable energy sector in Kenya: perspectives from stakeholders in the energy sector

To enhance inclusive and sustainable development in renewable energy (RE) technological innovations in emerging economies like Kenya, stakeholder groups (policy makers, private sector, researchers and NGOs) can strategically shape the innovation process including the technological field in which these technologies develop and diffuse. Their intervention can occur at different points during the technology development and diffusion continuum but this can also occur through their strategic engagement for policies and practice intervention. A qualitative study was carried out to solicit stakeholders’ perspectives about capabilities building and collaboration in RE projects in Kenya and what this means for policy and practice. The study is also concerned about the accumulated capabilities or embedded learning that occurs within collaborative projects that characterize most renewable technologies in African countries. The study draws insights from technology transfer and national innovation system (NIS) literature to expose stakeholders’ understanding about the key processes that enhance or characterize local technical and managerial capabilities in the uptake of renewable technologies in Kenya. The study uses the case of renewable electrification with wind and solar PV in Kenya. The findings show that, stakeholders consider solar and wind technologies as opportunities for building local capabilities through their deployment in Kenya. In addition, they offer an opportunity to promote inclusivity through job creation and micro business entrepreneurship among rural community. The stakeholders identify guidance of search, knowledge development and diffusion; legitimization and resource mobilization as key dynamic functions critical for efficient and inclusive deployment of solar and wind technologies in Kenya. The study reflects on key recommendations for policy and practice in RE electrification in Kenya.

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