Case: Kenya Decentralizing Power Policy

Decentralizing Power Policy and Legislation – The Tungu-Kabiri Community Micro-Hydropower Project in Kenya

Reviewed by Timothy Byakola, CDI / INFORSE East Africa, Uganda.


In Kenya hydropower is a major source of electricity contributing well over 60% of the country’s electricity. In 2007 Independent Power Producers were allowed by an electric power act. This act didn’t however take into consideration small scale decentralized schemes (such as micro hydro power) which could be used by off grid communities.
As a result, private sector investment in renewable energy businesses has been slow.
A Micro-hydro power project located in Tungu-Kabiri in Meru South District approximately 185 km north of Nairobi has been going on since 1998. The project generated its first electricity in June 2001. The capacity of the scheme presently amounts to 14 kWe. The scheme, which is still in a project phase, is owned, operated and managed by a community group that has incorporated itself into a corporation. The community group currently has a membership of approximately 150 members.

Different players
Funding of the project was done through the Small Grants Programme of the UNDP/GEF.
Implementation was done through ITDG and the Ministry of Energy and the community. ITDG monitored the project and provided technical support.
The community also contributed labour to the project estimated at 30% of total costs. . ITDG continues monitoring the project and providing technical support. (ITDG has since changed name to Practical Action).

Benefits and impacts
The project was a good example in demonstrating how the decentralization of energy supply can generate community participation in energy planning and hence ensure energy access to poor communities.
Government support was won due to the fact that the project involved the Ministry of Energy as a partner from inception. With the benefit of direct experience in implementing a micro hydro power scheme, the Ministry was inspired to review decentralised power policy in Kenya, leading to the improvement of Energy policy relating to decentralised power production. As a result of this project, the Ministry of Energy has set official standards for the micro hydro power sector, capacity has been strengthened to under take micro hydro feasibility studies; capacity to manufacture and repair system components has been built and other development partners have now supported two similar schemes in Kirinyaga District. Critically, new Government legislation and policies have been introduced. The business centre where the community has established premises to let to business enterprises or public services, the power is supplied during the day from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm. At present, power is used in eight separate stalls for welding, hair salon, barber, charging of mobile phones, selling of cold beverages and a video show room. An additional six stalls are planned for which a milling machine, oil processing (sunflower) and tobacco curing are desirable businesses. The clients are charged a flat tariff of 300 Kshs monthly (approx. 4.5 USD). Other planned developments of the scheme include the supply of electricity to surrounding households and water pumping which has been advocated by women in the community.

The Tungu-Kabiri micro hydropower project was implemented by ITDG with funding support of two SGP grants of $ 38,500 for phase one (1998) and $ 25,000 for phase two (2000). The two phases took four years to complete from 1998 to 2002.

This project is a good model in demonstrating the role small scale renewable energy solutions can play in providing cheap energy to poor communities and providing substitute to fossil fuel based electricity generation for off grid communities.

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· East Africa: Scaling up Access to Modern Energy Services

  · Kenya: Decentralizing Power Policy
  · Kenya: Afforestation for Charcoal
  · Mali: Jatropha Biofuel for Rural Electrification

· Mali: Productive Use of Energy

  · Mali: Solar Lighting Kits for Rural Areas
  · Uganda: Feed-in Tariff for Renewable Energy
  · India: Solar Dryer
  · India: Solar Lantern Charging Station
  · India: Household Biogas Plant
  · India: Micro-Agroecological Village Development Model
  · Nepal: Improved Water Mills
  · Nepal: Charging Centre for Solar Lamps
  · Sri Lanka: Commercialization of Improved Cookstoves
  · Sri Lanka: Standard Code for Domestic Biogas Systems
The cases were collected in the framework of the "Southern Voices on Climate Change" Project. Link: