Innocent Tshilombo arrived in Kenya as a refugee – after migrating from the eastern Congolese city of Goma in 2009. He stayed for many years at theKakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya, but the conditions in the remote camp with a population of 200,000 gave him no peace.
"People in rural areas often miss out on government services - such as roads, telecommunications and the Internet," Tshilombo told DW.
Determined to make things better, he founded Kakuma Ventures and began installing solar panels and setting up Wi-Fi hotspots: green energy as the key to development.
"The model that we have built in Kakuma has been proven to provide support to the livelihoods of refugees and host communities," says Tshilombo.
The enterprise now stands tall as one that mainstreams Africa's agenda to use renewable energies to fight against climate change.
Tshilombo's Kakuma Ventures is among many renewable energy companies in Kenya that are attending the ongoing first-ever Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. He says the summit is an opportunity for him to learn about financing options for clean energy. "it also means the solution applies to people living in rural areas," he said.
Curtail foreign dependency
Tshilombo's Kakuma Ventures is not the only renewable energy company taking part in the summit.
More than 13,000 delegates are participating at the landmark Africa Climate Summit, alongside over a dozen African heads of state and government.
International leaders and observers are also attending the summit which is a joined effort of the African Union (AU) and Kenya's President William Ruto.
Ruto's government has been preparing for the summit for months. They see it as an opportunity for Africa to map out how to finance and tackle its climate change problems in Africa without necessarily relying on foreign partners for funding.
Kenyan Environment Minister Soipan Tuya said in her opening remarks that, "If we do not develop adequate response measures to deal with the climate change crisis, it will destroy us."
As head of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, William Ruto prides himself in the fact that Kenya already covers 90% of its electricity needs from renewable energies such as geothermal energy, wind and hydropower.
Looking for a new narrative
The summit aims to assert Africa's position in global climate protection efforts. On the world stage, African leaders have been pushing for greater financing of climate change efforts as Africa suffers from the consequences of the global crisis without having contributed to creating it.
At the end of the summit, the "Nairobi Declaration” is expected to spell out Africa's position on climate change and how the continent intends to tackle the problem.
"The declaration paints a new narrative on how Africa intends to address various challenges relating to nature, energy, finance, transport and other very practical issues in an African context. Africa is a very green, very young continent,” says Svenningsen.
"The population will double in the next 30 years and infrastructure developments and investments will take place over the next 10 to 20 years."
NGOs question Ruto's 'African leadership'
Florence Gichoya is part of the climate summit's supporting program.
She represents the internationally active alliance of civil society organizations for access to clean energies - "Access Coalition" for short - based in Nairobi. She is hopeful about how the gathering will help expand renewable energy projects on the continent.
"We are very excited to find out what the content of the declaration will be,” she told DW.
But the fact that President Ruto and his climate minister Soipan Tuya have failed to engage the civil society organizations in key discussions is already a concern, says Gichoya. "Will it reflect what Africa wants? Will it provide answers to the needs for cleaner supply energy in Africa?" she asks.
Climate change in the local context
Despite all the criticism of the implementation, Florence Gichoya essentially agrees with Ruto's goal to set up a summit "by Africans for Africans".
"We cannot wait for others to do what needs to be done in Africa,” says the representative of the "Access Coalition”.
The messages and also the financing would have to come from Africa in order to find sustainable solutions: "In Africa we know where the challenges lie and what the solutions consist of."
Adapted by Mimi Mefo from German to English