With over 4 million inhabitants and a growth rate of over 4% annually, Kenya’s capital city Nairobi is the largest and most populous city in the country, and the tenth largest city in Africa. It is an established hub and the main commercial centre of the country with a well-developed business infrastructure, and is estimated to generate more than 63% of Kenya’s gross domestic product.
Nairobi has a diverse industrial base with railways being the largest single industrial employer. Light-manufacturing industries produce beverages, cigarettes, and processed food, while tourism is also important (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018). Nairobi has the largest concentration of industries and wealthy homes in the country, with half of the country’s large power users located in the city’s industrial areas and central business district. Remarkably, Nairobi County accounted for more than half of Kenya’s national electricity consumption in the four years to June 2017, reflecting the capital city’s economic dominance over the other 46 counties.
There are many possibilities and options for Nairobi to pursue greater energy efficiency in the buildings sector, including:
• Empowering an internal NCC team responsible for designing and enforcing local building-sector policies on green building design and energy efficiency;
• Establishing energy efficiency codes and standards for new buildings that where possible go further than current provisions of national codes in recognition of Nairobi’s circumstances, and allocate additional resources and responsibilities for enforcement;
• Provide financial and tax incentives to builders and building owners to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings;
• Encouraging the development of third party suppliers in industry such as ESCOs and energy auditing firms;
• Support adoption of energy efficient appliances and lighting among households including through continued rollout of appliance and lighting energy efficiency minimum performance standards and labelling, and consider introduction of energy certificates for all buildings so that tenants are aware of a building’s performance with regard to energy;
• Continue to promote the use of clean cookstoves by households and solar water heating among households, hotels, and public organisations, and integrate energy efficiency into urban and slum redevelopment strategies and plans;
• Consider leakage reduction programs for municipal water supply: water audits conducted in some Kenyan water companies reveal up to 70% of the treated water cannot be accounted for, and energy used for pumping could therefore be reduced dramatically by addressing this issue;
• Conduct training for building professionals and municipal staff for the integration of energy efficiency measures in the planning approvals and construction process. Carry out skills gap analyses for both municipal staff and wider industry stakeholders on issues related to energy efficiency;
• Gradually lower the threshold for energy audits in commercial buildings to below the 15,000 kilowatt-hour annual energy consumption level currently set within the national policy framework, and include all municipal buildings within the scope. At the same time, energy efficiency targets and guidelines for existing municipal buildings could be developed, and dedicated municipal energy managers and information systems put in place, to show leadership in this area;
• Develop programs specifically aimed at raising awareness, building capacity and incentivising identified targeted audiences (e.g. industry professionals, product manufacturers, developers, building owners, and householders) through commercial real estate firms, residents’ associations, NCC staff, and advertising; and
• Participate in city networks (e.g. BEA, C40, Covenant of Mayors) and benefit from learning from the experiences in other cities around the world, as well as the information and expert support offered by the networks.