Refugee-led business provides clean energy to camp residents – UNHCR

by | Jun 5, 2022 | Energy

By Samuel Otieno and Charity Nzomo in Kenya  |  05 June 2022
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Vasco Hamisi is hard at work checking on the solar panels at Okapi Green Energy Limited, in northwestern Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. The Congolese refugee is the brains behind this outfit, which provides clean energy to 200 businesses inside and outside the camp, as well as many refugee households.

“I decided to go into green energy because when I came here, we were really struggling to get light. If you had a torch you would have to buy new batteries every week,” he says. “When I wake up every day, I feel that I need to make a positive contribution to the community that I’m living in.”
He arrived in Kakuma 12 years ago after fleeing fighting in his hometown in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He initially started a community-based organization to help find solutions to the camp’s energy needs. He later set up Okapi Green Energy as a private company and in 2017 received US$28,000 from several international donors, including Energy for Impact UK and EDP, Portugal, to set up a 20-kilowatt solar mini-grid. 
Bitisho Tusambe, a Congolese refugee and mother of three, runs a shop that offers printing and photography services and sells mobile phone accessories. Her customers used to get frustrated when the electri …

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