'This is the first time I have seen a project that starts from what people need'



A project meeting of the Low Cost Technologies Project, which was held in February 2016 in London, discussed the results of a survey conducted with over 700 respondents in Kenya using choice modelling methodology.  The survey provided details of what technological, financial and practical parameters were deemed important for users with regards a range of energy efficient technologies for use in healthcare facilities, farms and households in Kenya.   It focused on understanding consumer preferences for key design features of improved cookstoves, solar/ passive fridges and solar water pumps together with an integrated suite of energy efficient healthcare technologies available in a 500w ‘clinic in a box’.  Several representatives from the UK’s Department for International Development, the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network and the Open University attended.  The project is now moving on to Stage Two, which comprises prototyping and fieldtesting of various energy efficient technologies and working with companies to develop viable commercialisation plans.  Related research aims to understand the barriers and opportunities for technology brokering and commercialisation of energy efficient technologies in Kenya.

Meanwhile, in April, a seminar was held at Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), Strathmore Business School, Nairobi, Kenya to provide details of the survey to entrepreneurs working in solar PV, cookstoves and other renewable energy industries. The seminar at KCIC focused on results relating to domestic appliances.  Twenty-six entrepreneurs attended the event, with many more entrepreneurs and stakeholders expressing interest and requesting a copy of the report.  The results were discussed in depth with participants providing feedback on the usefulness of the results for their business plans, gaps that needed filling and making a strong recommendation for a second round of the survey.  One participant stated, ‘this is the first time I have seen a project that starts from what people need’.

Further details of the project are available at: http://dpp.open.ac.uk/research/projects/low-cost-energy-efficient-products-bottom-pyramid

Details of the survey are available at: https://www.facebook.com/LowCostTechnologies

The project is funded by EPSRC-DFID USES programme (EP/L022311/1) and runs for three years from 2015 to 2017.