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Meet Kenyan who sells cheap power to thousands, including neighbours, schools & SMEs

John Magiro despite scoring a D- in KCSE, has become an innovator supplying affordable electricity to thousands of customers who can't access Kenya Power grid

John Magiro

Kenya is undergoing a transformation in its electricity sector, a crucial driver for its burgeoning population of approximately 50 million.

The country has made significant strides in increasing electricity access, a persistent challenge, particularly in rural areas.

In recent years, access to electricity in Kenya has experienced an impressive rise, as per World Bank data, showcasing substantial improvement.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) reports that electricity penetration in Kenya reached 76.49 percent, serving 8.2 million consumers by 2021.

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Despite these advancements, challenges persist, notably in off-grid areas where traditional power infrastructure is either insufficient or non-existent.

John Magiro, an innovator in Muranga County, recognized the untapped potential of harnessing renewable energy to power off-grid communities in Kenya.

One of his first innovations was using a bicycle dynamo to generate power for his family. The community was not connected to the grid because they could not afford to raise the required money to approach Kenya Power.

Despite scoring a D- in his KCSE, he was determined to find solutions to the problem. His journey ultimately led to the establishment of Magiro Hydro Electricity Limited, providing off-grid electricity to individuals, businesses, and the broader community.

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He harnesses energy from a local waterfall at Ngondo River, eventually receiving Sh105 milllion support from the government and private investors to scale up his concept into a professional hydropower plant.

As of January 2024, the power plant serves 1,000 off-grid customers with plans to reach over 5,000 households by 2027.

The company utilizes run-of-the-river technology, generating energy without causing significant environmental disruption or requiring substantial infrastructural investments.

This technology employs the kinetic energy of flowing water, directing it through turbines to generate mechanical energy, subsequently converted into electricity.

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John’s primary customer base comprises rural households located near the river or those unable to afford the high costs associated with grid electricity.

In addition to households, small businesses, and schools in these rural areas also benefit from Magiro’s electricity supply.

Steve Maina, the CEO of Kiriti Tea Factory, noted in a past interview that there has been a marked improvement in production quality and consistency since adopting hydropower.

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He emphasized that, in the past, power interruptions compromised the quality of tea leaves, affecting market prices.

However, with the stable supply of hydropower, the factory can now ensure consistent quality and maintain its reputation.

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