US President Obama's grandmother joins the Solar Generation

Press release - 20 August, 2009
Young Kenyans working with Greenpeace’s Solar Generation are tackling the twin problems of energy poverty and climate change today, by installing solar panels on the Senator Barack Obama School in Kogelo and on the roof of the house of Mama Sarah – the US President’s grandmother.

Mama Sarah said: "I am very pleased that my home has been improved thanks to solar energy and I'll make sure my grandson hears about it. Solar power is clean, reliable and affordable, unlike paraffin that is widely used in the area. Also, we now have qualified youth in the village who can help with the upkeep of the systems."

The solar installations are part of a 20 day renewable energy workshop hosted by Greenpeace's Solar Generation (1) with 25 participants from the Kibera Community Youth Programme (2) and community members of Nyang'oma Kogelo. Young Kenyans are learning how solar photovoltaic panels generate electricity and about their installation and maintenance, the fabrication of self-assembling solar lamps and marketing potential.

Robert Kheyi, project coordinator for the Kibera Community Youth Programme, said: "The workshop and practical installation of solar power are a critical opportunity for us to develop our own skills in renewable energy installation. Not only do we get to act against the devastating effects of climate change in Kenya, but also develop a source of revenue."

Kenya, like many other countries in Africa, is on the climate impacts frontline. It has seen a drastic reduction in rainfall in recent years. Drought has worsened problems in agriculture caused by poor land use and desertification, making Kenya's large scale hydro power unreliable.

Faced with these challenges, investing in solar energy technologies is a win-win strategy. It strengthens the economy and protects the environment, while ensuring a reliable and clean energy supply. The solar industry is ready and able to deliver the needed capacity. There is no technical impediment to doing this, just a political barrier to overcome as we rebuild the global energy sector.

"It is time for the industrialised countries to give something back. At the Copenhagen Climate Summit this December President Obama and other world leaders must agree to avert further climate chaos including agreeing to fund projects like this throughout the developing world to help them both adapt to and mitigate climate change." said Abigail Jabines, Greenpeace Solar Generation campaign coordinator.

Greenpeace is calling for rich countries to contribute US$140 billion annually to support climate adaptation, mitigation and forest protection in the developing world. With just 15 weeks left to go till the decisive UN climate talks in Copenhagen, Greenpeace urges world leaders to emulate the innovative young people of Kibera and Kogelo and translate their climate rhetoric into action in Copenhagen.

Other contacts: Contacts in Kenya:

• Abigail Jabines, Greenpeace Solar Generation campaign coordinator, +31 6 4622 1185

• Fiona Musana, Greenpeace Africa spokesperson, +254 718 494 931

• Natalie Favre, Greenpeace International spokesperson, +254 710 794 727For

Photos contact: Jiri Rezac (London), +44 20 7865 8230; email:

Video contact: Maarten van Rouveroy on +31 646 197 322; email

Notes: (1) Solar Generation youth ( are taking action to address climate change and are calling for a low-carbon, renewable energy future. Initiated by Greenpeace in 2003, it has engaged young environmental activists, between the ages of 14-25, and is active in Egypt, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and Turkey. We are also working with partners in Africa, South America and Asia. Solar Generation raises public awareness about climate change while taking on solutions-based campaigns and projects, in order to move governments to act, now. It also engages decision makers at high-level political conferences and events to ensure that they do not become blind or deaf to the needs of the future generation.

(2)Kibera Community Youth Programme engages in different initiatives to address social, economic and environmental problems and is based in Kibera, the second largest slum in the world, on the outskirts of Nairobi. Originally founded as a debating club in 2002, the programme worked now helps its members to develop skills in public speaking, IT and project management. One of the outstanding initiatives involves training youths to assemble mini solar photovoltaic panels to charge mobile phones and radios that are affordable to low income people who live in Kibera. The KCYP members have travelled to different parts of East Africa teaching other youth how to assemble these mini solar photovoltaic panels. KCYP has among others won the world clean energy award in product category in 2007.