Among measures, President William Ruto put in place to lower the cost of living after assuming office in September 2022 were reducing the cost of fertiliser and paving the way for the construction of green energy and fertiliser facilities.
Renewable energy sources generate over 80 per cent of Kenya’s electricity today. President Ruto has repeatedly reiterated the government’s commitment to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Goals and transitioning to 100 per cent clean energy by 2030.
From solar power energy to electric vehicles aimed at reducing pollution and biogas for cooking, the President is also keen on increasing employment opportunities in rebuilding the economy.
Luciana Njeri, a 17-year-old Form 4 student at State House Girls, innovated a Biogas project to aid the government in achieving its goals, and Ruto secure his legacy.
Her biogas project, she told Kenyans.co.ke, on April 30, 2023, was reinvented to aid urban residents, majorly those within Nairobi. Njeri, a school’s Science Club member, presented her project at the 56th Science and Engineering Fair.
“There exists countless biogas projects tailor-made to offer different solutions. My project targets urban residents different from the others prominent in rural areas.
“Why the urban population? They pay most of the taxes, consume more energy and dump more waste,” she explained.
Njeri innovated a modernised waste container basket where one can dump their waste, and within a maximum of 7 days, have biogas.
“It is simple to install. We connect the basket outside - let’s say on your kitchen balcony - then fix a horse pipe to your gas cooker. You don't have to worry about it being ugly as it can fit anywhere outside. Whether you stay in a bungalow or 8th floor of an apartment,” she detailed.
Not all waste can be dumped into the basket as it accommodates organic material only. Organic waste is that which supports decomposition. These include foods like ugali, kales (sukuma wiki), cabbage and fruits.
“Yes, I do not advocate dumping wastes like glass, steel wool, plastics and paper bags as we target biogas and slurry.
“When any organic material decomposes, you get the biogas and the slurry. The slurry can be used as a fertiliser and it will lower the cost of living as it increases agricultural productivity,” Njeri states, adding that the local production of fertiliser will aid President’s Ruto food production agenda.
The head of state reduced fertiliser prices from Ksh6,000 to Ksh3,500 and hopes that the move would aid in reducing food prices in the country, especially Unga (maize floor), currently trading between Ksh160-230.
Njeri added that the project could also create solar energy but from a bigger supply of waste to power electricity in homes.
“We can do this through a bigger plant with research being conducted on its feasibility and how to leverage waste production. Look at Ruaraka, Kangemi and Ngong Markets, where organic waste is dumped.
“I know of such a project being looked into in Dandora (by the county and national government). But more of these in urban markets can create employment for the youth, create green energy - lower cost of living - waste management and sanitisation,” she explained.
The project will thus aid lower the cost of fuel, which accounts for nearly 50 per cent of taxes.
At her school, State House Girls, she hopes to set up a dome-shaped cylinder - with the government and investors’ aid - to produce biogas.
“We have cows which produce waste that can facilitate biogas production. This project will put me in a position to encourage the youth and teens to be innovative in schools - not after they have completed education - and grappling with employment and waiting for the government.'
“They can come up with projects to help society and solve problems and come up with business ideas,” she detailed.
Showcasing and competing with the project at the Engineering and Science Fair was quite demanding. Njeri was not among the top three in the regionals and did not proceed to the finals. However, she was cognisant of the skills and talents of her competitors, a factor which motivates her more.
“I passed the zonal but was not among the top three at the regionals. But that aided me to realise a different thought pattern - pushing for my unique biogas project to be feasible. The competition was all about exposure, and I haven't been heartbroken, as creating an impact is more important to me.
She also appreciated her school, which she stated, has been supportive by offering her ample time to research and access other resources. She added that her classmate, Roda, and teacher, Justus Kimolo, pushed her towards success.
Mr Kimolo told Kenyans.co.ke that the main objective of the science club is to nurture the young girls to sharpen their scientific skills as they develop solution-driven projects.
“The students are encouraged to research and develop their innovative projects individually or in groups.
“Luciana came up with the Biogas project at school in mitigating the challenge of the high cost of Biofuels (gas, kerosene) as well as the declining availability of wood fuel due to deforestation, which is a national concern,” he explained, adding that, just like every other club, theirs funded their activities.
Despite some students not proceeding to the Nationals, Mr Kimolo hoped they would continue to pursue scientific innovations to solve problems. He also urged KCSE candidates like Njeri to balance their academic life and ensure she succeeds in the national exams.
“Luciana is a humble, polite and pleasant girl who is well disciplined- virtues which will take her far if she persists in them,” he stated, concurring with the father, Peter Kamori.
“I am proud of how she speaks of me as a dad - that I have been the father she needed. She is my firstborn of four daughters and my best friend. We talk and encourage each other. She is a go-getter, and I believe her project will come to fruition,” the businessman stated.
Njeri’s role models are her father and Funke Felix Adejumo, a Nigerian transformational coach.
“What I love about her is how she encourages women to venture into business and not to box themselves, pray and get ideas. She reinforces her message with the word of God,” she explained.
In her free time, the 17-year-old KCSE candidate loves baking and hopes her project would aid bakers as much. One of the bakers she idolises is her Purpose Centre Church (RUACH) teacher, Anne Muratha. Muratha is a teen teacher in a program called Trendsetters.
“She is inquisitive and so courageous. I wasn’t surprised by her biogas project as she is experimental. She once explained her project to the whole congregation, and I hope her dream contributes to the United Nations Sustainable goal of Affordable and Clean Energy.
“Bakers like I look forward to her creating more renewable energy.”