Press Releases

Hydrobox & SolarNow build hybrid solar + hydro power plant providing power to residents of Baricho, Kirinyaga County

Today, at REFA – Renewable Energy Forum Africa, a renewable energy investment forum organized by AFSIA and SolarPower Europe, Hydrobox ( and SolarNow ( were happy to announce the successful commissioning of their first hybrid solar + hydro power plant built near Baricho town, Kirinyaga County.

The Gitwamba power plant was designed as a hybrid hydro and solar power plant. This is because the flow rate of the river differs a lot between the dry and rainy seasons. The solar system provides additional power during the dry season, while the hydro plant provides additional capacity during the rainy season, providing the customers in Kirinyaga County with a stable base load day and night.

This combination provides stable electrical output throughout the year, regardless of the dry or rainy season. This combines the best of both worlds and mitigates the effects of climate change, which makes the seasons more unpredictable.

The Gitwamba hydropower plant has a capacity of 170 kW. The hydropower component has an installed capacity of 50 kW at a design flow of 0.65 m3/s. The solar component has an installed capacity of 150 kWp and a capacity of 120 kVA (120 kW).

The partners decided to join forces on this innovative project.

Hydrobox is a pioneering company specializing in the development of small run-of-river hydro power projects. By harnessing the power of rivers, Hydrobox designs and builds sustainable energy solutions that provide communities and businesses with reliable, eco-friendly electricity. These power stations are deployed in areas with poor or no access to energy and serve an ecosystem of anchor customers (large farms and factories), small businesses (schools, hospitals, shops, restaurants, etc.), and household customers through a self-owned mini grid.

SolarNow is a full-service solar EPC company that has operated in East Africa since 2011. The company was founded on the belief that everyone should have access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy. From a company delivering energy to over 50,000 rural consumers and small businesses, SolarNow has evolved into a Solar EPC active within the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) market in East Africa. SolarNow offers client financing solutions and supports Businesses as well as Institutions with design and installation of their Solar system solution. SolarNow is primarily active within the Education, Healthcare, Telecom, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Oil& Gas, Real Estate, and Non-Profit sectors.

HydroBox and SolarNow came together in this project on a number of shared beliefs about the energy landscape in the region;

  1. Energy needs need to be addressed with a customer-first approach; not the technology, but the specific local context and customer needs are leading when building appropriate energy solutions
  2. Addressing the African power challenges will require out-of-the-box thinking and collaboration between industry actors; new business models supported by the latest technology and flexible financing structures hold the potential to bring energy to the hardest to reach areas of the continent
  3. Implementing energy projects in partnership allows developers to tap into a wider pool of talent, skills and experience, ensuring high quality of work and long-term sustainability of projects


Figure 1: Projected output of the Gitwamba power plant from solar and hydropower over the course of the year.

Figure 2: Projected combined power generation of the Gitwamba power plant throughout the year.


The project will be benefitting approximately 170 beneficiaries (resp. 150 households, 8 schools, 2 medical facilities, 10 businesses), and will result in the creation of 6 new direct jobs and an estimated 17 indirect jobs.

REFA continues at Sarit Center until Friday October 6 with further discussions focusing on solar and storage technologies and project financing, as well as electric mobility.


About REFA:

Renewable Energy Forum Africa (REFA) is the new annual conference organized by AFSIA and SolarPower Europe to promote investment in renewables on the African continent. The event is supported by GET.invest, a European programme which aims to mobilise investment in decentralised renewable energy, supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria.


About Hydrobox & its founders

Hydrobox is a pioneering company specializing in the development of small run-of-river hydro power projects. By harnessing the power of rivers, Hydrobox designs and builds sustainable energy solutions that provide communities and businesses with reliable, eco-friendly electricity.

Hydrobox is a joint venture of Kenyan entrepreneur John Magiro and Belgian serial entrepreneur Thomas Poelmans.

John grew up in a small village in Murang’a, Kenya, about a 3 hour drive from Nairobi. Growing up, no one in his community had electricity. The nearest electricity pole was 15km away. After seeing his mother struggle, he decided to build his first micro hydro power plant using everyday objects providing affordable electricity to over 300 households.

Thomas began his career at Deloitte where he developed a service line supporting international organizations to manage their operations in Africa. In 2014, he started working as a consultant and project developer in recycling and renewable energy projects for the World Bank, the Belgian government, the French development agency and the Port of Antwerp.

For more information, please visit or the following video clips:


About SolarNow & Directors

Launched in Uganda in 2011 and active in Kenya since 2017, SolarNow implements solar projects across the East African region. The company has built a reputation for pioneering solar technologies and innovative delivery models. During its first decade of operation SolarNow reached over 50,000 residential and business clients. Since 2020, the company focuses its client offering exclusively on institutional and corporate customers in East Africa.

The move into the C&I market was inspired by the ambition to connect businesses with sustainability and a growing market demand for larger (grid-tied, hybrid, off-grid) solar energy solutions. C&I solar solutions have experienced rapid growth worldwide as a way for grid-connected and off-grid clients to save on their electricity bills and ensure reliable electricity supply.

Current SolarNow clients include businesses from the Real Estate sector, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Hospitality, and Telecoms. The company further serves a wide range of institutions, most notably from Education, Healthcare and Non-profit sectors.

SolarNow is a Dutch founded company but locally rooted and operating out of Uganda and Kenya since 2011. The senior management team is led by Boldewijn Sloet (CEO) and Ernst Vriesendorp (CFO/ COO). Boldewijn is an off-grid energy pioneer who lived and worked in East Africa for the post 15 years, working both as a business operator and venture investor. Ernst has lived and worked in East Africa for over 4 years and is a seasoned business leader and impact driven professional with 16 years’ experience within finance, entrepreneurship, and investment banking.


For more information, please visit or the following video clips:

SolarNow on linkedIn:

SolarNow rebrand video:


For more information:

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