Sola Kijiji: hallmark innovation in Nyamira’s Gekomoni Tech Sec School

Lawrence Otieno - Communications & Marketing | 13 October, 2021

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Nyamira County has for a long time been overlooked when it comes to innovation. Technically and economically, the little known County has been considered to play second fiddle to its sister County, Kisii.

Reeking of ancient Abagusii heritage, the County is seesawing modern civilization and cultural progression. Amid this interesting oscillation and within this spectacular geographical location, two young brains have reversed the status quo and brought the County into the innovation limelight.

Erastus Abuga and Cris Nyairo, alumni of Gekomoni Technical Secondary School are determined to help their alma mater cut down cooking fuel cost and improve the health of the cooks by innovating alternative clean energy cooking boilers.

The duo has come up with solar powered cooking boilers innovation, a solar power cooking technology dubbed Sola Kijiji consisting of a boiler and solar oil tanks. The solar panel taps the heat energy, which is then stored by oil inside the tank. The tapped heat is then transmitted to the jiko through insulated pipes.

The innovation won the 2020/2021 National Innovation Award (NIA) run by the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA).

While speaking when he presented the cheque to the innovators in Nyamira yesterday, the Agency’s CEO Dr. Tonny Omwansa lauded the innovation stating that it is solving a number of issues that the Country is grappling with, top of which are food security, environmental issues, and deforestation.

"Last year we awarded four innovations in the National Innovation Awards and we're going round to see what progress they've made. I am particularly impressed with this innovation since it addresses a lot of challenges we are facing," said Dr. Omwansa.

Dr. Omwansa said the agency is determined to commercialize many quality innovations adding that the measure of success of the agency is the number and quality of innovative ideas that get to the market.

Last week during a Technology Transfer and Innovation Commercialization training organized by the Country's Innovation Agency in Machakos University, Dr. Omwansa challenged institutions of higher learning, research centers and Government parastatals to shift the conversation from research to Commercialization.

The Principal, Gekomoni Technical Secondary School Mr. Thomas Nyaencha is optimistic the project will soon be complete given the support by the Agency.

"We are happy with the innovation. It will save us a lot of energy and phase out the use of firewood," said Nyaencha.

KeNIA board chairman Prof. Reuben Marwanga who also attended the issuance of cheque ceremony challenged the innovation ecosystem players to devolve innovations to the Counties as well.

"It's through innovation that the Country is going to develop. We therefore need to move innovations to the Counties. We have to build innovation hubs in our Counties," said Prof. Marwanga.

The former don however recognized the uniqueness of each County in Kenya but noted that albeit the unique opportunity within individual Counties, one common denominator is the availability of innovative youths in the Counties.

The innovation mastermind Erastus Abuga challenged fellow youths to open their minds and venture into the innovation space, a move he says is challenging but rewarding as well.