IREK Working Paper No. 8

Building competences and capabilities through projects: examples from Kenya’s renewable energy sector

Kenya is one of the fastest growing promoters of solar and wind power in Africa. These two energy sources are increasingly being utilised to provide clean energy into the national electricity grid system as well as in off-grid alternatives for hard to reach areas of the country and/or to supplement organisations and businesses due to the inefficiencies of an expanding grid system. The dominant argument for their promotion is that these energy sources are clean and affordable; provide a means of increasing energy access to ‘the last mile’. However, little attention has been paid to the projects that are responsible for the introduction of these energy sources into the power supply, specifically from the perspective of their potential benefit to industrialisation and inclusive economic and social development in Kenya. This paper investigates how wind and solar energy development projects provide opportunities to build competences and capabilities that have the potential to enable more inclusive economic and social development in Kenya. Specifically, it investigates how competence and capability building are undertaken in solar and wind energy projects in Kenya and if, and how, their promotion is written into, realised and utilised in wind and solar energy projects. The findings of a number of case study projects show that flow of technologies (hard and soft) within the project cycle have a role to play in providing opportunities for building technological capabilities, core competences and individual skills leading to upgrading at the project, firm and individual level. Specifically, project level collaboration and the resulting interactive learning have been key to this competence and capability building and resulting upgrading.

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