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By Mercy Nduati

With zeal, Peter Mbiria has been developing fascinating robots from age 7.

Peter Mbiria with semi-transforming vehicle and the wheel chair robot prototype during the interview

Coming from a humble background, Peter Mbiria dedicated his efforts to secure a place at an engineering school regardless of the disappointments of getting into university to pursue electrical engineering. Now, a final year student at Technical University undertaking electrical engineering course, he has gone against all odds to develop amazing robots that he hopes will help transform the engineering sector.

His passion, he recalls dates back to his childhood days, when his mother used to send him to the dairy farm to fetch milk which he say was a daunting task. At a tender age of 7 he made his first toy robot to help him carry milk from the dairy. In 2004 after completing his primary school education, he developed his first prototype vehicle to test his capabilities. From then on, his case has been of forward ever backward never as he has sprung out one innovations after another ever since.

‘I sourced out for the raw materials such as the gears and motors from electronic waste in Ngara. The wheels are however from a toy which i bought.’ he says when speaking of his current projects which consist of a semi-transforming vehicle, Music DNA and the wheel chair robots-projects which took him approximately six months to complete.

Looking on, I gain keen interest on how they operate. ‘The semi-transforming vehicle also referred to as ’linda nchi’ is a four wheel car and woks best on rough road terrain. It can be controlled manually by switching on the button at the side of the vehicle or electronically by connecting it to a power source. It has a remote control to steer the wheels,’ he says.

The music DNA system which had been remmiting colours at will during the interview is one of kind and easily attracts attention.”It has a designed circuitry which takes in music, subdivides it and gives out the output in varying levels of lighting. Also depending on the intensity of the music, it responds to any music bringing in different colour variations from light emitting diode (LED),” Peter explains of his innovation. “It is good for indoor or outdoor entertainment,’ he adds.

The two are not the only innovations in his latest efforts. In helping the physically challenged individuals, Peter came up with an improvised wheelchair to help with their free movement. ‘The wheel chair is a new development that I came up with as part of my final year project in college. No human assistance is needed since it has an automatic balance feature, it also has the ability to go up and down the stairs on whichever type of ground as the steering wheel is fully powered to help it move in front or backwards,’ he explain of his gadget. ‘The other characteristic is that it enables people with disabilities to stand up in whichever situation, for instance, cooking or even shopping,’ he says.

The robots can be used as tools for educating students on the basics of engineering in the mechanical or electrical departments. ‘Inadequate funds to source out for the raw materials and yet doing research in creating such inventions is expensive. For example, a microcontroller is an expensive and fragile tool and once broken the robots prototype can’t function. Also we need to have more mentors to guide us not only in theory practices but in practical applications too on how our skills can be utilised.’ he said.

With keen interest in reaching a wide range of people globally and accommodating the emerging industry , Peter says the  prototype wheelchair robot is a bit expensive but the semi-transforming vehicle and the music DNA  are quite  affordable to those with interest in transport and entertainment industry.

With massive industry growth and different technologies being developed daily, the young student has began patenting his inventions with the help of his institution, Technical University of Kenya (TUK) and Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI).  Apart from working on an advanced version of the econ-wheel chair that will be programmable, he is currently undertaking his attachment at the US giant tech company, IBM office in Nairobi.

Advice to the aspiring robot engineers: Chase your dreams despite the obstacles that might come in between the way.

Taipan has stated that its wholly-owned Kenya-based subsidiary, Lion Petroleum has received formal notice from the high court of Kenya of a temporary injunction preventing the company from working on the Badada-1 well site in Block 2B, north-east Kenya.

“Based on legal advice received the Block 2B partners are confident that the injunction will be revoked such that the company can progress to its projected spud of the Badada-1 well in early January 2015,” said Taipan.

Adjoined to Lion in the lawsuit as co-respondents are the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum, the Attorney General of Kenya, the Chairperson of the National Land Corporation and Premier Oil.

Taipan holds 30 per cent working interests and is the operator at Badada-1, with Tower Resources holding 15 per cent and Premier Oil holding 55 per cent.

Source: Oil & Gas Technology

By Brendon J. Cannon, Ph.D.

The Power System Interconnector Project between Ethiopia and Kenya aims to further integrate the electricity markets of the East African Power Pool (EAPP). It plans to do so by interconnecting the power systems of the two countries through the construction of high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) power lines and the transmission of hydroelectric power. The project aims to develop a more robust regional power market as the current transmission infrastructures between the two countries are insufficient for the transfer of power. It will also reduce the cost of electricity in Kenya and generate increased revenue for Ethiopia, as it will be able to export electricity to Kenya once the project is completed. 

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) is testing the final unit of the 280MW Olkaria geothermal power project ahead of its unveiling in December, 2014. This injection intends to further reduce the cost of power among consumers and businesses.

The 70MW unit 5 already connected to the national grid will generate 52.5MW into the system as tests continue being carried out. This marks the final phase of the KES 115.4 billion Olkaria geothermal project. The project consists of 140MW Olkaria IV launched in October and Olkaria 1 units 4 and 5 each with a capacity of 70MW.

Geothermal power accounted for 42.7% of the 794.1 million units of electricity bought by homes and business in the month of October while hydro power accounted for 35.1%.

With the ongoing testing, KenGen’s steam power output stands at 4,668MW up from 158MW in December last year.

KenGen plans to double its power capacity by 3,000MW by 2018 from the current 1,335MW.

Mr. Alex Mbugua,Kenya Airways Group Finance Director(L) and Mr. Mbuvi Ngunze,Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO during the media briefing

Kenya Airways has today released its first half year results ending September 30, 2014. The airline unveiled the results though the turbulent challenges it has experienced throughout the year.

For the period, the airline has recorded positive results as it has received five of its first set of six units of the B787 Dreamliner fleet, launched the Jambojet carrier and has expanded its route to Abuja, Nigeria.

Speaking at the unveiling, Group CEO and Managing Director, Mbuvi Ngunze said ‘Kenya Airways has been affected by a series of events such as JKIA fire, Ebola crises and issuance of travel advisories by various countries but it managed to achieve a turnover of KES 56,788 million indicating a 4.5% improvement compared to the previous year.’

‘The operating fleet costs rose to KES 42,171 million representing a 13% increase from last year due to added capacity growth of 15%. Its operating fleet loss stood at KES 5,047 million within the six month period compared to KES 1,739 million profits posted in the same period last year,’ stated Alex Mbugua, Group Finance Director.

Ngunze added that Kenya Airways will focus on balancing growth in the cabin factor so as to increase commercial flow of the airline. He is also eyeing on some prospective business factors such as deploying new fuel efficient fleet, opening of terminal 1A at JKIA, redesigning the hub of the airport and adding more lounges to offer superior customer service.

In February 2014, Kenya Airways suspended its routes from Amsterdam to China due to economic crises. Though in the past six ix months cargo tonnage rose by 8.4% following increased sales effort and introduction of freighter destinations within Africa.

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways is set to receive more Dreamliners next year and also introduce international flights to India.

African Development Bank (AfDB) has granted Tanzania Central Corridor with KES 239 million (USD 2.6 million to finance the project‘s design and feasibility studies. The rail-road network corridor runs from the Port of Dar es salaam to Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The grant will be used to pay consultants undertaking feasibility studies, detailed engineering designs, environment and social impact assessment.

Tanzania plans to capitalise on a long coastline and upgrade existing railways and roads to serve growing economies in the land-locked heart of Africa from Uganda on its north border to Malawi in the south.

In addition, the country intends to expand its Central Railway line to a standard gauge running from Dar es Salaam to Isaka as part of its long term plan. 

Samsung Electronics East Africa in partnership with iLab Africa has today launched eight new locally designed mobile applications. The applications developed by young Kenyans were unveiled during the 2nd edition of the Samsung App 'Show N Tell'.

The Samsung App 'Show N Tel'l event aims at bringing together local app developers under one platform to present their innovations as part of a research development.

The local application (apps) developed today include:

App Wakili - this app enables lawyers to easily access legal information in Kenya.

National Assembly and County Assembly App- allows Kenya National and County Assembly law makers to access standing and order papers on tablets and mobile phones.

Kenya Wildlife Service Guide App-enables tourists locate national parks, conservancies, reserves and amenities within the parks.

Laikipia Wildlife Forum App- this app accolades environment conservationists’ efforts within Laikipia Conservancy.

KCA University App-the app delivers content to students, ranging from information on extra-curricular activities it also allows for course registration and enrolment of new students.

Halal Kenya App- provides a list of Halal certified establishments and their locations, and allows users to review them.

Uganda Legal App-this app helps lawyers, magistrates, judges and law students access legal information in Uganda.

Pharmacy &Poison Board (PPB) App-this app enables PPB inspectors register and authenticate pharmacies and their employees in real time and make the information available to the public.

More applications (apps) are set to be launched in the next months.

The Government of Kenya will forge ahead with sugar importation as local output drops by 51%. According to the Sugar directorate the move has been approved by Government in efforts to stabilise prices and protect the market against future sugar shortage.

Last week, Kenya Sugar Board reports showed that closing stocks from local sugar mills were 6,613 metric tonnes to accommodate a three day consumption while domestic consumption stood at an estimate of 2,000 metric tonnes per day.

Currently, Mumias Sugar Company (MSC), West Kenya, Kibos and Soin sugar firms have been closed for maintenance leading to decline in production. The remaining seven operational factories are Chemelil, Sony Sugar, Nzoia Sugar, Butali, Transmara, Sukari and Muhoroni Sugar have on average not exceeded 1,500 tonnes daily in the last two weeks.

Read also : Butali Sugar Mil license operation halted

NB Kenya has 50 importers of table sugar and 37 for refined sugar licensed and registered through an open process, but only 10 are cleared to import sugar.




The government's ongoing effort to position the country as an industrial investments destination has received the backing of an investor in the textile manufacturing sector.

As part of the government's efforts to attract textile and related industrialists to boost job opportunities, the new Mombasa Apparels EPZ factory has today commenced operations.

Located in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, the new Mombasa Apparels EPZ Factory will manufacture garments for the international market.

Speaking during the official opening of the US$ 25million factory, Industrialization and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Mr. Adan Mohamed, said the opening of the factory had created 3000 direct jobs with a potential to create another 4,000 jobs in its second phase of development.

"Such investments in the Textiles and Apparels Sectors are a clear demonstration of the growing investor confidence," Adan said. "The Government is deliberately focusing on labour intensive sectors that are key drivers in job creation and industrialization." he added.

This year, Kenya managed to spring up as the leading and largest exporter under the AGOA program in Sub-Saharan Africa, with exports to the tune of over US$300 million and 10,000 new direct jobs created in the apparel sector.

To underscore the importance of this sector, global players in Textiles and Apparels will be in the country next week, to participate at the Origin Africa, a Pan-African event organized by the African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Industrialization and other local and international players to discuss the future of this sector.

"From a global perspective, many industrialized nations have had the textile and apparel sectors as their pioneer sectors to industrialization.  It is for this reason that the Government of Kenya is making provisions to support this sector by focusing on strategic interventions that will improve the operating environment among them subsidizing the cost of power in order to ensure that investors are able to create more employment opportunities for our people.  These interventions will also ensure that as a country we remain competitive and well positioned to grab a share of the global apparel market that stands in excess of $500bn," he added.




General Electric (GE) plans to construct a 100MW wind power farm in Kajiado County early next year. The power project will be operational within 18 months after its completion.

The project will be located in Kipeto area, Kajiado County, will cost about KES 26.7 billion (USD 300 million) to build. Construction is set to commence once all financial details are laid out as early as 2015.

The project partners involved are the World’s Bank investment arm, International Finance Corporation and Craftskills Wind Energy International Limited, a Kenyan renewable energy company.

Meanwhile, Energy Regulatory Commission reports that the cost of electricity as at November has hit a four year low. The commission attributes the drop to the injection of 140MW of geothermal power into the national grid system and availability of cheap fuel. With low power prices, investors will invest more into the Kenyan economy and businesses will open up.

The Government of Kenya plans to expand its power generation with 5,000MW by 2017 from about 1,700MW to reduce power black outs and cut on high power tariffs.

  • Engineering student develops robots from waste materials

    Engineering student develops robots from waste...

  • Taipan receives court injunction to halt...

  • Integrating the electricity markets of the East African Power Pool

    Integrating the electricity markets of the East...

  • KenGen to launch final unit of 280MW in December

  • Kenya Airways records 13% rise in fleet costs

    Kenya Airways records 13% rise in fleet costs

  • Tanzania Central Corridor receives KES 239m for...

  • Samsung East Africa and iLab Africa launch...

  • State imports sugar, local sugar production...

  • Local investor pumps in US$ 25Million in new...

  • GE to construct 100MW power farm in Kajiado

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Kenya’s plan to cut the cost of connecting new electricity consumers to an average of Sh30,000 moved closer to reality after the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a $133 billion (Sh11.9 billion) loan for grid expansion. The loan, whose approval had delayed, will finance the Last Mile Connectivity Project (LMCP) that aims to bring power supply to remote areas and place the bulk of unconnected homes close to the grid.

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