Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Solar Company Opens its doors in Naivasha, Kenya

A 250 million shillings solar manufacturing company has been opened up in Naivasha, making it the only such company in East and Central Africa. With only South Africa hosting a solar manufacturing company in Africa, the entrance of Ubbink East Africa Company into the country is expected to see the cost of power drop. Speaking during the opening of the factory in Naivasha, Ubbink MD Haijo Kuper said that the solar market was growing at between 20-25 percent in East Africa.

"This is the only solar company in Africa outside South African and we intend to invest into a second line of production before the end of the year," he said. With a workforce of 40, Haijo said that the company was currently producing 100 panels per day which was not enough for the market. He said that the biggest challenge was importing sufficient raw materials from Europe and Asia though the government was chipping in to solve the problem.Haijo said that the Dutch based company preferred Kenya due to the learned labor force, wide distributor network and an established market.

"In the last five months we have supplied to the local market and we are now moving to Rwanda, Tanzania and later to Southern Sudan, Malawi and Ethiopia," he added.The production facility is the first to make photovoltaic solar panels in East and Central Africa and is a joint venture between Ubbink, Centrotec Sustainable and Chloride Exide.Speaking during the ceremony, Gert-Jan Hisman the CEO Centrotec Sustainable termed the production as clean green energy.

"This production will see the minimizing of using high pollution energy sources which will contribute to saving the environment," Hisman noted.On his part, the chairman Largo Investments Nigel Pavitt said that almost 98 percent of rural population in Africa did not have power supply."The only readily available energy source is high-pollution kerosene lamps and this solar panels will come in handy," he said.

The panels will be distributed by Chloride Exide and is expected to bring affordable electricity to many rural areas.

From K.B.C (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)

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