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Kenya and Spain to explore a partnership on social housing

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Spain on Tuesday agreed to explore a partnership on social housing for the low income earners especially in urban areas.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Joseph Borrell Fontelles, visiting Spain’s minister for foreign affairs, European Union and cooperation, also agreed to pursue partnerships in the areas of renewable energy, particularly in solar and wind energy.

A statement issued from Kenyatta’s office said Spain is ready to engage and participate towards the achievement of the affordable housing pillar of the Big 4 Agenda.

"We have many firms that can be good partners in affordable housing," Fontelles said, noting that his country has a unique social housing model where construction, renovation and buying of houses are subsidized by the state through reduced interest loans to providers.

Houses developed under this scheme, dubbed publicly protected housing, are provided to the public almost entirely on owner-occupation terms, rather than for rent, he said.

Under the affordable housing pillar of the Big 4 agenda, Kenya plans to put up at least 500,000 affordable houses by 2022.

The minister also welcomed Kenya’s continued efforts to improve operations at the Port of Mombasa saying his country welcomes the reforms the country has taken to enhance efficiency at the facility.

During the meeting, Kenyatta assured Spain that Kenya is doing everything possible to streamline operations at Kenya’s Mombasa gateway.

"The port was a big loophole for us.

"We are working on it and soon all the systems will be streamlined.

"In about a month, we will be able to see great changes at the port.

"We are trying to ensure the importation of goods is streamlined," Kenyatta added.

He also welcomed Spain’s proposal for a partnership to develop Kenya’s tourist sites and enhance tourist experiences especially in scuba diving, a hobby that’s becoming a major tourist attraction in the country.

The two countries further agreed to develop partnerships in sports especially in football and athletics. Spain is famed for its highly developed football while Kenya is an African powerhouse in athletics.

"We are keen on developing football academies across the country where we can start training our youth on the sport from early ages," said Kenyatta.

"Our objective is to tap and develop the football talents of young people and transform this potential into rewarding engagements," he added.

Spain and Kenya also signed three protocols on political relations, foreign service training and on the protection of investments.


Kenya launches project to provide solar solutions in marginalized counties

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Tuesday launched a 4.7 billion shillings (4.7 million U.S. dollars) project for the private sector to provide solar solutions in marginalized counties.

The facility under the Kenya-Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP) is aimed at spurring the private sector to provide viable solar and clean cooking solutions in the 14 marginalized counties.

Joseph Njoroge, principal secretary in the ministry of energy, said the country has made great strides in achieving connectivity with access to electricity standing at 75 percent through both grid and off-grid options.

"However, access to electricity is low in the 14 marginalized counties, which represent 72 percent of the country’s total land area and 20 percent of the population.

The dispersed settlements in the marginalized counties make off-grid solutions the only viable alternative for access to electricity," Njoroge said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The results-based financing (RBF) and debt facilities under the KOSAP are financed by the World Bank and implemented by the ministry of energy alongside the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC).

They are intended to ensure that counties that are not served by the grid and have been classified as marginalized by Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA) are not left behind and receive access to energy through off-grid solutions.

Through financing from the World Bank of 150 million dollars, KOSAP seeks to overcome these challenges and establish viable off-grid solutions for areas that are too far for the national grid to be economical.

Patrick Thaddayos Balla, World Bank K-OSAP Task Team Leader said the project targets about 1.3 million people from the 14 marginalized counties.

Balla said this will be realized through the construction of about 151 mini-grids in the target counties as well as the installation of stand-alone solar systems under the financing launched on Tuesday.

"The World Bank is committed to supporting the Government of Kenya in achieving the universal access goal laid out in the Kenya National Electrification Strategy and is partnering with the government to ensure that nobody in the target counties is left behind in accessing modern energy services," said Balla.

The project also targets replacing 380 diesel pumps with solar for drinking water, and expects to facilitate the provision of 150,000 clean cooking stoves in West Pokot, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo.

The RBF and Debt Facilities specifically aim to establish sustainable supply chains for marketing and sales of solar home systems in KOSAP counties.



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