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The Powering Education Project in Kenya Renewables That Improve School Performance

Enel Green Power has presented at EXPO 2015, during the Kenyan National Day, the first results of the project carried out together with Enel Foundation for young people in this country. The first stage has involved 12 schools and 350 students, showing how the distribution of solar lamps has favourably affected students’ achievements

Renewable sources improve the education of young people in Africa. Among the many benefits of green energy, few people would think of including those related to school performance, however the Powering Education project that Enel Green Power and Enel Foundation have presented on September 8 at the EXPO Milan during the Kenyan National Day, shows that this is actually true.

In Africa 620 million people lack access to electricity. Of these, more than 85 percent live in rural areas that are not connected to the domestic grid, and only one third of these areas is planning on implementing an electrification programme over the next few years. The energy poverty that characterises these areas implies a lack not only of electricity, but also of basic health attention, adequate food, work and access to even basic education.

The Powering Education project is one of the first attempts to establish a bond between two key issues regarding sustainable growth in emerging countries: the electrification of rural areas using renewable energy and the promotion of the education level. By associating rigorous impact assessments to the diffusion of solar lamps, the project investigates whether the availability of clean energy sources produces an impact on school performance and family budgets. Launched in September 2013, together with the Global Shapers Community of the World Economic Forum Rome and Nairobi Hubs and in partnership
with the Coca-Cola Company, Enel Foundation and the NGO GIVEWATTS, the project has completed its first phase, with results that give evidence for the first time, following a rigorous study, how lighting from renewable sources supports young people’s school performance and also produces benefits for their families.

12 schools and 350 students in southern Kenya have participated up to now in this project, allowing to find that students who can use a lamp tend to study more at home, with a 17 percent average increase of the time spent studying. Additionally, families whose children were given a solar lamp have reduced expenses, cutting weekly electricity bills by 10-15 percent and devoting a consistent amount of their increased savings to other domestic needs, such as the improvement of hygienic services.

More than 1,100 solar lamps in 70 rural villages have been distributed up to now, granting sustainable and secure access to electricity to over 5,500 people. The second stage of the project will involve some 60 new schools and 2,300 students in the Kisii county, in Western Kenya. This will enable a deeper knowledge of the effects on employment of parents and students, thus gaining further information on the impact of solar energy on families.

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