NEGAWATT NAIROBI MEETUP # 1: LAUNCHING NEGAWATT NAIROBI AT IHUB'S ENTREPRENEURSHIP FORUM

Author: Gladys Kitony

Last Saturday, January 17th, was an exceptional day at the iHub. With approximately 120 people in attendance, the first Meetup for the Negawatt Challenge for Energy Efficiency took place. The Meetup was held in collaboration with iHub’s Entrepreneurship Forum - a series of entrepreneurship talks, pulling in experts from different sectors to highlight the opportunities in their industries. The theme for the forum was Energy and Energy Efficiency. The official speaker of the day, Dr. Jay Taneja, a senior research scientist at  IBM Research - Africa  made a presentation about the opportunities, pitfalls and successes in Kenya’s energy sector and sparked a lively discussion amongst all in attendance.

 Dr. Jay provided a succinct outline of the energy sector and its linkages to economic growth and prosperity.  What followed was a highlight of the current status of Africa’s energy sector with a focus on the Kenyan scene. He pointed out some of the main challenges Kenya’s energy sector is facing, such as varying fuel costs, energy (grid) system connection costs and increasingly higher levels of demand over supply. Little has been done to address these challenges despite increased traction in this particular sector over the recent past.

Dr. Jay’s introduction was followed by a detailed exploration into   energy entrepreneurship. Discussions included the potential of varying business models, as well as examples illustrating how technology has effectively solved energy problems in different parts of the world. Automatic, a product by a US company was cited as one of the examples. Automatic uses a bluetooth-enabled sensor to a car OBD-II port to provide driver feedback for better acceleration and braking habits.

Among the highlights of the day, was the acknowledged need for entrepreneurs to tap into the smart grid system in order to effectively address challenges faced in the sector. The smart grid system is a type of technology that optimizes the conservation and delivery of power. This system presents new opportunities for Information Technology (IT) to disrupt the energy sector.

The event culminated with the launch of Negawatt Nairobi. The Negawatt Challenge for Energy Efficiency utilizes a multi-phase, open innovation methodology to empower communities to innovate around local energy issues, transforming cities into more sustainable and energy efficient places. These meetups are designed to raise local awareness and understanding about energy efficiency and rally momentum and participation in the Negawatt Challenge. For more information, see http://www.negawattchallenge.com/about/

You can find Dr. Jay's presentation here

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