Kenya - Regional Aspect

The energy used in commercial and residential buildings accounts for a significant percentage of the total national energy consumption. It is estimated for instance that urban buildings in Africa alone consume on average 56 % of the total generated electricity. The building sector consumes more energy than the transport and industrial sector.

The majority of new buildings in Sub Saharan Africa (i.e., in tropical climates) are replicas of buildings designed in the West. They do not take into consideration climatic differences, i.e. between cold or temperate climate on one side and tropical climate on the other. Inefficient design and construction using energy intensive materials, such as cement, steel, aluminum, glass, combined with poor understanding of passive building principles and energy conscious behavior, has led to energy wastage in buildings. As a result, buildings are heavily reliant on artificial means for creating indoor comfort, i.e. cooling, heating, ventilation and lighting.

In Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, the supply of electricity is far below the demand. Over 65% of the power supply in the region comes from hydropower plants whose effective capacity is being heavily affected by changing climatic conditions, especially with respect to precipitation. Thermal power plants are being brought in to address this shortfall as well as the growing electricity demand. Fossil fuel based power generation in the East African countries is currently at approximately 920 MW and represents over 30% of the total generation capacity. An increase of up to 50% is anticipated over the next 10 years, as ―business as usual‖.

It has been estimated that 75% of the building stock in East Africa in the year 2050 will be built after the year 2010. Three driving forces account for this, firstly the current rate of rapid urbanization, secondly the significant housing backlog, thirdly the strong governmental commitment to mass housing delivery and sustainable urban development in combination with the expected economic growth and prosperity. Hence, there is both the opportunity and the urgent need to influence the future developments in such a way that most of the newly created building stock will be energy efficient with a low carbon footprint.

Energy Efficiency (EE) is a relatively new topic in the region, especially with respect to buildings. It has not been tackled through an integrated approach, yet. EE is more urgently needed for several reasons, firstly the above mentioned increasing power shortage, secondly prevailing high costs of electricity and thirdly because of the current levels of energy wastage.