• femengkenya

Day 14 - The Long Way to KETRACO

The day started at almost ungodly hours, so we could meet our driver from the university at half past 8. Unfortunately, there was no vehicle for us. And no driver. The situation was made even more difficult by the fact that the UoN girls could not attend today due to field trips and labs. After almost 90 minutes of waiting, we grew quite impatient, as we were supposed to meet Carol Ofafa and her colleagues at KETRACO at 10 o’clock for an industry visit Ruby had organised for us. Finally, we left a bit after we were supposed to be there with a different driver than originally assigned to us.

Thinking that we had overcome the bureaucratic challenges of the day, we were glad to arrive at the office slightly too late under many embarrassed apologies. Carol welcomed us warmly anyway. After a round of introductions, we got a presentation about the company. KETRACO is responsible for providing a national grid and is fully owned by the government. In Kenya, the access rate to electricity is about 77 % and growing. It was so interesting to learn about the challenging and important discussions with the communities about to be connected to the grid. We also got the chance for our very own short interview prepared by Kaitlyn. Many of the women we spoke to are proud to be engineers and to educate others, with hopes for more female leading positions. It was so empowering to see them supporting each other within the company. We also learnt about their goals to provide long-lasting transmission lines for the country along with an insight into their tasks. Improving life quality through access to electricity is the reason for the passion of many of them.

The biggest news of the day was that Carol not only wanted us to visit the company, but also aims to establish a collaboration with FemEng as well as with the University of Nairobi to continue STEM outreach, encourage girls to embrace more technical subjects and set up a mentorship and scholarship programme with UoN. We were absolutely stunned. On top of hopes for internships, connections and a powerful partner, she gave us another contact in another company to expand the network. This may be the best thing that has happened to the project so far.

In high spirits, we made our way downstairs to our driver so we could leave for the site visit. At least we thought so. Because there was no fuel in the van (despite the fact that our application was fully approved), the driver wanted us to go back to the uni to get another vehicle. After long discussions (and lots of translations, as half of them were in Swahili), we agreed to that. Halfway to campus, he decided to not drive us outside of Nairobi where the site would be. Not without the official letter in his hand. Without any of the UoN girls, we could not do anything, so we were forced to cancel the trip. At this point, the day was done for me.

To crown the mess of the day, the supermarket we went to did not have any straws we needed for our workshops the next day. Closely holding on to my fanta bottle, I tried very hard to not freak out. Fortunately, we got everything we needed in the next shop, so we could go home for an extensive finance meeting. That for sure did not contribute to any reduction of stress.

Without any further issues (we are so proud!), the day ended late at night for us. Good things have happened, but it’s very hard to see past today’s disappointment. We might have the chance to reschedule the site visit, so we hope that next time all the preparations of PPE and logistics on KETRACO’s side are not in vain. Apologies again!

- Micha