How Magiro hydropower energy is changing lives

John Magiro (center), the founder and CEO of Magiro Power, chatting with staff. PHOTO/Courtesy.
John Magiro (center), the founder and CEO of Magiro Power, chatting with staff. PHOTO/Courtesy.

With an estimated 80% of all electric energy produced being geothermal, Kenya is the continent’s top renewable energy generator. 

Significant investments in geothermal, hydro, wind and solar sources come with this.

Kenya’s renewable energy

When President William Ruto, Kenya’s fifth president, took the oath of office last year, he committed to deliver the remaining 20% and enable Kenya to reach a total of 100% renewable energy by 2030. 

Even if hydropower is gradually increasing, geothermal power continues to provide the most to Kenya’s green energy production.

Hydro energy is renewable because it cannot be depleted and because it doesn’t involve burning fossil fuels, which prevents carbon dioxide emissions. 

It has been estimated that humans began using energy produced by natural resources, such as rushing and flowing water, as early as the Sumerians 400 BC, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that water could be used to generate electricity.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) estimates that Kenya has an installed hydropower capacity of 826.23 MW and a minor hydropotential of 3000 MW. 

The majority of the plants are huge hydroelectric ones that depend on KenGen, an expensive national grid electricity provider.

The national electric supplier Kenya Power is frequently chosen by consumers as their energy source, leaving low-income individuals who cannot pay the cost to search for less expensive alternatives, some of which may not even be environmentally friendly, sustainable, or clean in the first place.

Following the ongoing electricity price increase, renewable energy may be Kenya’s newest hope.

Case study

Murang’a, a small, grumbling town, not too far from the Kenyan capital city, is another record-breaker for green energy. 

We take a tour deep down to the sloping central region, in an open swath of land with few homes and not so many people, as of those places you’d like to escape the busy city life and take a breath of fresh air in. 

Magiro Power Project staff chatting with a client in Murang'a. PHOTO/Courtesy.
Magiro Power Project staff chatting with a client in Murang’a. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Undoubtedly, this location has not harmed the environment and leaves no trace of environmental destruction. The area is welcoming, endearing, tranquil, and green.

How it started

Seven years ago, a young, clever man named John Magiro came up with the idea of a hydro box plant to provide this remote community with reliable, economical, and sustainable energy. 

He began it as a straightforward bicycle dynamo experiment when he was a freshman in high school in order to provide energy for one unit of his household. 

The demand to find a more consistent source of energy for his town increased because he was unable to approach larger companies for assistance and was instead asked by friends and neighbors to share the meager energy his bicycle dynamo produced.

Ngedo River, a nearby river with a waterfall, is close by. 

Using his understanding of physics, he was determined to get a solution to the lingering problem. 

A sample of the grids Magiro uses for the renewable power project. PHOTO/Courtesy.
A sample of the grids Magiro uses for the renewable power project. PHOTO/Courtesy.

The word quickly spread, and before anyone knew it, Magiro, who his people called an “engineer”, had secured funds from the Kenyan government and the business sector to transform his bicycle dynamo idea into a real, working hydroelectric power plant.

Implementation and effects

After three years, with assistance from CO2 logic, the Magiro hydropower plant expanded to produce electricity for low-income rural residents. 

The project’s first three hydropower plants, which provided 600 rural households in Murang’a with efficient, dependable, and sustainable electricity, can each service up to 200 families.

The adoption of renewable energy sources is one strategy to slow down global warming because it has the power to reduce CO2 levels. 

The plant has the capacity to produce up to 60 kilowatts per day, and a projected 290-kilowatt-hour annual plan results in a reduction of CO2 of up to 170 tons.

By supplying energy for refrigerators, which aid in food preservation and enhance livelihoods, the plant has also decreased food waste in the rural community it serves. 

It impacts livelihoods by supporting regional enterprises, particularly professional agriculture, and by facilitating access to digital and contemporary education.

One of the power stations by Magiro. They supply over 6000 people across Murang'a with renewable power energy for domestic and commercial use. PHOTO/Courtesy.
One of the power stations by Magiro. They supply over 6000 people across Murang’a with renewable power energy for domestic and commercial use. PHOTO/Courtesy.

By providing specialized services that enable its users to fully take advantage of the potential electrical transformation, the plants work to provide inexpensive power to businesses, households, and the entire rural low-income community.

Since then, Magiro Hydropower has received a lot of funding to the point where it can now modify more bicycle parts and basic motors along with waterfalls to generate cheap energy for underprivileged households who cannot afford electricity from Kenya Power, the country’s primary electricity provider. 

Low-income households in most rural areas of the country are forced to use existing energy sources like kerosene and firewood, which are typically not always clean and affordable because of the high cost of electricity installation and rising living expenses.

The anticipated impacts, with a total reach of 350 families, are 14% of the total population of 942,581 people. 

The main goal of John’s idea is to provide energy at lower prices than the national grid.

In order to provide electrical energy to low-income earners in Muranga, the initiative gives credit and even a lease to own useful electrical appliances. 

Enabling energy takes more than just a power source; it also involves the issue of cables, workforce, and electrical equipment. 

In order to tap into the underutilized portion of the workforce and improve livelihoods, they want to have an influence on 500 homes over the course of the next three years, focusing mostly on women and young people.

The main target communities are those who do not have access to the main grid but do have a running river nearby because using projects that use available resources, electricity may be produced with little environmental disruption.

The kinetic energy is turned into electric energy using turbines and generators, which is then sent into the electrical grid to power commercial buildings, residential homes, and other businesses.


The cheapest and oldest energy source, hydropower, requires little upkeep after installation of the dams and plant setup compared to initial investment because investment is only made in harvesting and consumerization. 

The project uses water from the nearby Ngedo River to produce hydropower energy. PHOTO/Courtesy.
The project uses water from the nearby Ngedo River to produce hydropower energy. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Even those with low income may afford to use hydropower. 

Production is based on demand; you adjust it to what the customer wants.

It is most advantageous, especially in rural areas where demand is highly erratic. 

If a plant is to be built in a location where the river is relatively far away and transportation would be very expensive, secondary water flows may be useful.

Renewable energy comes from a natural resource that is renewed more frequently than it is used up. 

Africa generates a significant amount of renewable energy from sources like sunlight, wind, waterfalls, and rivers. 

On the other hand, detrimental greenhouse gas emissions, like those from carbon dioxide, are also produced by non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, which also take very long to form. 

By switching to renewable sources, emissions are reduced, and three times as many employment opportunities are generated, compared to by non-renewable sources. 

They also aid in addressing the climate catastrophe because non-renewable resources account for the majority of emissions.

Renewable energy projects for electricity always receive favorable comments. 

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Why oil and gas may make Africa the next big thing

It is projected that around 1.2 billion people globally lack access to renewable energy, with Africa accounting for the lion’s share with 635 million people, or about half of the total population.

Imagine going about your daily business without electricity. Lack of energy slows both social and economic developments in people’s lives. Rural areas are the most affected.

Previous articleSasini Group adopting green energy, phasing out electricity use
Next articleUphold shaving hair and other school rules or is change inevitable?
Ms. Loise is a Communication Specialist with a bachelor's degree in Publishing and Media Science from Moi University, Kenya. She is a dedicated web developer and a climate change and environment writer. She also owns diverse skills in social media marketing. Her contact:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.