Middle Nzoia and Gitugi

Pair of run-of-river hydropower plants with combined 15MW generating capacity will create over 600 jobs in rural Kenya

Two proposed run-of-river hydropower plants in rural Kenya will provide a total installed capacity of 15MW, with far-reaching benefits for the community.

Under plans by rural utility developer Virunga Power, the 7.56MW Middle Nzoia plant will be built on the Nzoia River in western Kenya, while the 7.51MW Gitugi plant will be on the Mathioya South River in the central region.

The projects are both being developed under Kenya’s Small-Scale Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff programme, and once built will be among the country’s first – and largest – privately developed grid-con­nected small hydropower installations. As of 31 March 2022, the project was at an advanced stage of development; however, COD has been delayed as a result of a slump in demand for power in Kenya.

Community support, as well as co-ownership and long-term benefits to the community, are all central to the Nairobi-based developer’s busi­ness model, and both hydro projects will be developed in collaboration with local community organisations.

The plants are expected to create around 600 jobs during construction, and a further 30 jobs when operational. Direct community ownership and participation will ensure dividends and other long-term and sustainable socio-economic benefits flow to local rural communities.

Completion of the projects will have a strong demonstration effect with­in Kenya and across the East African region, not merely in terms of successful grid-connected small hydropower development, but also as a model for developing such projects in partnership with communities.

Virunga Power’s approach, which seeks to develop financeable projects with both direct and indirect benefits to local communities, is innova­tive, sustainable, and also highly replicable.

In July 2020, Virunga Power became one of the first REPP investees to establish a gender action plan. The plan contains 57 actions and targets across three main areas – namely, corporate, project construction and operation, and community.

Funding structure

Contracted date: 30 June 2016
Lending type: Development capital
REPP funding: USD 751,000

With REPP’s support, Virunga Power is able to accelerate the development of impactful rural energy projects and expects to deliver long-lasting, highly beneficial, and sustainable infrastructure to our Kenyan community partners.
- Brian Kelly, Founder and MD, Virunga Power