Promoting energy efficiency as a climate change mitigation action in Kenya

4 min readDec 18, 2019
In Kenya, the vast majority of rural households burn wood on open fires for cooking and heating — a practice which is environmentally harmful, inefficient and causes health problems associated with indoor air pollution. Promoting energy efficient and low-carbon power is key to mitigating climate change. Photo: Kevin Ouma/UNDP Kenya

When it comes to human development, climate change remains a defining issue of our time: its impacts are not only slowing down growth of economies but exposing already fragile ecosystems and vulnerable communities to even more risks. Reduction of the rate of increase, and scale of changes, in greenhouse gases (GHG) — also known as mitigation — is an option both developing and developed countries are pursuing as part of the global efforts to fight climate change.

Kenya’s Climate Change Action Plan 2018–2022 has prioritized enhancement of energy efficiency as one of the priority actions to mitigate climate change in the country[1]. The demand for electricity in Kenya has been growing at an annual rate of approximately 4% and it is forecast that demand will exceed 23,000MW by 2030[2]. The energy sector is considered a key enabler to achieving the country’s development blueprint Vision 2030.

Wood fuels, which provide the most available and affordable source of energy, are the most consumed: especially in rural areas but also a significant number of urban households in Kenya. Petroleum and electricity on the other hand are the most dominating sources of energy in the commercial sector, largely due to manufacturing and service provision.

Meeting the growing demand of energy both at domestic and commercial levels will require the country to develop appropriate strategies and investment plans to secure a sustainable supply of energy and facilitate the realisation of Kenya’s long-term development aspirations — part of this process will require establishing energy efficiency standards and consistent labelling of products in order to ensure that sources of energy deployed on the market support national efforts to meet the energy demand while at the same time contributing to the reduction in the emission of greenhouses gases.

Successful implementation of this approach will result in the transformation of the market through the removal of energy inefficient appliances from the market and the introduction of a universal energy information labelling system which will allow consumers to make decisions when consuming the different types of energy.

Although there have been significant improvements in the technology of consumer goods which have also resulted in overall increase in energy efficiency of electrical appliances, many appliances on the Kenyan market and in households today remain inefficient when compared to other parts of the world.

Under the UNDP Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development (LECRD) in Kenya initiative, three Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) have been developed for the three most used appliances: televisions, LED lights and computers. It is projected that successful implementation of MEPS on these appliances will result in substantial savings, equivalent to 94MW, over the next 10 years. Further there will be an avoided emission of an estimated 531,555tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)[3].

Using newspaper advertisments such as this to promote energy saving alternatives to inefficient legacy household appliances such as televisions, lights and computers is part of the work of the LECRD initiative. Photo: UNDP Kenya

The MEPS will be incorporated into the Minimum Energy Performance Standards Regulations of 2015. Developed with support from UNDP, these regulations are supposed to facilitate the implementation of the MEPS initiated under the previous Standards and Labelling Programme executed by the Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development.

The LECRD Project is supporting the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), a national institution with a mandate to further industrial research, technology, and innovation to set up energy efficiency research and testing laboratory for electrical appliances. The facility has started off with testing of industrial induction motors and energy saving lamps. Its future plans include the incorporation of refrigerators and air-conditioners.

The facility will support the Government of Kenya’s efforts aimed at ensuring that only high-quality products meeting the MEPS 2016 are available to consumers. KIRDI will collaborate with the Kenya Bureau of Standards, the Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to ensure frequent testing of new appliances entering the Kenyan market. This will reduce the number low quality products in the Kenyan market in favour of high-quality products.

[1] Government of Kenya (2018). National Climate Change Action Plan 2018–2022.

[2] Eberhard et al. (2016). Independent Power Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from Five Key Countries. Directions in Development.

[3] Ministry of Environment and Forestry (2017). Draft Report on Minimum Energy Standards for Three Appliances.

About UNDP in Kenya:
Under the
Country Programme Document (CPD) 2018–22, UNDP leverages innovative approaches working under three pillars of: Governance, Peace and Security; Inclusive Growth and Structural Transformation; and Environmental Sustainability, Climate Change and Resilience.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this story are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of affiliated donors or organisations.

Written by: Yvonne Nyokabi, LECRD Clean Energy and GHG Inventory Officer.

For more information on UNDP Kenya and the LECRD project, visit:




In #Kenya, UNDP works with the Government and communities towards inclusive and sustainable socio-economic and human development.