Global study set to provide accessible clean energy for low-income communities in Kenya

Wednesday, 19 April 2023

A project that will enable schools within low-income suburban communities in Kenya to become accessible clean energy hubs has begun.

African SCENe (Sustainable Community Energy Networks) is a 12-month feasibility study that will identify schools within low-income suburban communities in Nairobi that could become clean energy hubs. These hubs will generate, store, and distribute clean, renewable energy for the communities in which they serve, accelerating access to adequate, affordable, and reliable light in the evenings and energy for cooking, while simultaneously enhancing awareness and education of those living in the area.

Funded by Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Round 9, the study is being delivered by a project team made up of experts from the University of Nottingham, SmartKlub, Edu-Cater Global and FWD.London, with the support of Nairobi-based Map Kibera.

Professor Lucelia Rodrigues, Chair in Sustainable and Resilient Cities at the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering, said: “Every single member of the project team has an important part to play in the success of this study, with the University of Nottingham’s role being to develop the social, economic, policy and technical research needed to support the project."

Lucelia Rodrigues
This is a significant piece of research that we hope will provide multiple benefits for low-income communities.
Professor Lucelia Rodrigues, Chair in Sustainable and Resilient Cities at the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering

Professor Rodrigues continued: "Not only will it provide practical solutions to enable better access to clean, safe and reliable energy, but will also provide wider socio-economic benefits, such as engaging children in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education using energy as the vehicle.”

Responsible for developing the business models that will take the energy hubs from concept to reality is project lead SmartKlub Ltd. Charles Bradshaw-Smith, CEO of SmartKlub Ltd, said: “This project allows SmartKlub to use the expertise it has gained in the UK to bring robust community benefits to sub-Saharan Africa. But, instead of addressing domestic climate change needs, here the opportunity is even more profound."

We can empower women to run safe after school cooking, as well as healthy eating and extended homework sessions to transform their lives too – all installed and supported by local supply chains.
Charles Bradshaw-Smith, CEO of SmartKlub Ltd

The inclusion of schools within the project is a crucial component, as it ensures a central focal point for the community, which Edu-Cater Global plans to build on to help inform and enhance people’s knowledge and awareness of clean energy.

Frida Nzaba, CEO at Edu-Cater Global Limited, said: “We are looking forward to developing a programme where the community and school students will be able to further their knowledge around clean energy. As part of this project, we are planning a small pilot event in Kenya where we can gather information and baseline the community’s current knowledge around this topic, as this will provide us with data on how we can bridge the knowledge gap. Our long-term goal is to be able to implement this programme to be delivered at the local hubs.”

Ensuring the scalability and replicability of the project across sub-Saharan Africa has also been factored into the project, with FWD.London looking to utilise and grow existing supply chains as well as developing new ones from UK businesses.

Aaron Wilson, MD at FWD.London said: “This project will build on the work we have done via The Community Revolution project, in developing low carbon energy systems, that meet the diverse set of needs seen across the African continent. We look forward to engaging with technology suppliers, both within Africa and the UK, in developing replicable and scalable solutions fit for the African context.

We believe that access to clean energy will enable the people of these local communities to overcome the obstacles they face in life and prosper in a sustainable way. We look forward to working with project partners in realising both the project goals, and the wider UN sustainable development goals.
Aaron Wilson, MD at FWD.London

Story credits

All school photos © Map Kibera

More information is available from Dr Lorna Kiamba, in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham at or; Danielle Hall, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham, at

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