For Elizabeth accessing electricity is about “equalizing” society. After working for nine years at the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) she is invested in bringing power to communities far from the urban centres.
REA’s “pet project” has been the electrification of Kenya’s primary schools, after an intense drive this now stands at 98% across the country. Closely tied to this is the “One lap top per child” program, a much publicized campaign which aims to equip every school child with a computer. Access to power is a key determinant of whether this will be feasible. With or without laptops Elizabeth believes electricity presents a key barrier or opportunity for school children, those without access to light have less study time and feel disadvantaged when it comes to national examinations. The further away from the higher the higher the cost of electrification and the more attractive solar solutions become, REA is currently looking at setting up solar systems for schools in Kwale, Kitui and the North Eastern counties.
Education is not the only area that power access defines the success of communities. Local businesses are severely constricted by limited access to electricity. Elizabeth believes that rolling out electricity to rural areas will be a powerful incentive to prevent rural urban migration because “when people have a means and they start their own businesses they are not attracted to the glamour of the cities because they are building their own towns.” The aim is to have 100% electrification by 2020 and Elizabeth is confident that REA is well on the way to making that a reality.
When asked about her hopes for the future Elizabeth has ambitious goals, she says
“We would like for all corners of the rural Kenya to access power. We would like to participate in job creation through electrification, but above all we want to give the child from the primary school an opportunity in life so that their opportunity is the same as that child in the urban centres. By and large we want to revolutionise the economy.”
Elizabeth wears a Kiko Romeo dress and Le Collane di Betta earrings.