Caroline Makenzi Shapes Nairobi with Solar Engineering

Published: Jun. 5, 2016

Carol is a Mechatronics Engineer with Ariya Capital Group’s collaborator, African Solar Designs. In this blog and audio interview, Carol is featured as one of the women making a difference in Nairobi, Kenya.

Carol believes that it is big business, the industrial players, that are really going to make the difference for renewable energy in Kenya. She and her organization, African Solar Designs, recently won a grant from Powering Agriculture, an innovation challenge addressing the link between agricultural production and clean energy. Carol aims to bring solar energy to the flower producers in the country, a business which makes billions of Kenya shillings every year.

Flowers are exported in vast quantities from Kenya to Europe and the suppliers face pressure both in terms of profitability and green credentials. Carol believes that solar energy is the silver bullet that the industry is looking for. Power bills count for 15% of flower producers’ overheads and the growers have to deal with frequent power outages. Solar power will offer an opportunity to cut costs, take control of energy consumption all whilst using a clean form of electricity. For Carol adoption of solar by big commercial exporters is more than a financial opportunity, support from these influential companies will exert pressure on the government to move forward with regulations that will promote renewable energy. There is one such bill awaiting approval in Parliament as we speak.

It was an internship in Germany that persuaded Carol, a student in mechatronics engineering, that that solar energy held a vast potential for Kenya. She studied at a university which was looking at 3rd generation tech renewable energies And saw first hand “what we could do with solar engineering if it’s fully tapped”. Carol believes she’s in the best position to take advantage of this opportunity.

Carol explains “our model is business to business. We feel that’s where we’ll make the biggest impact and the highest consumers of energy in this country are the industrial players. We want to impact the economy in a bigger way and much faster and we feel that this change will be brought by about by the private sector.”

For more stories of the inspiring women changing the face of Nairobi, please visit She Shapes The City.

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The impact investment sector looks for solutions that address social or environmental challenges. Ariya Capital provides cost-effective renewable energy generation and energy efficiency services to farmers with little up-front investment—a boon for farmers, the environment, and for investors.