Kenya in Sh270bn race to con­nect all homes

Business Daily (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­win Okoth [email protected]­tion­

Per­cent­age of pop­u­la­tion with ac­cess to power

The Kenyan gov­ern­ment has hatched yet an­other multi-bil­lion shilling plan to ramp up elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions among poor house­holds de­spite the harsh eco­nomic reasli­ties that have left dis­trib­u­tor Kenya Power with more than 800,000 non-ac­tive cus­tomers. Over five mil­lion house­holds will be con­nected to the na­tional grid in the next four years un­der a Sh270 bil­lion plan, whose aim is to achieve univer­sal ac­cess to elec­tric­ity, the Min­istry of En­ergy said.

The am­bi­tious Kenya Na­tional Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion Strat­egy, which aims to have every house­hold con­nected to power through grid ex­pan­sions and off-grid sources by 2022, was launched yes­ter­day in Nairobi.

En­ergy sec­re­tary Charles Keter said

the plan, to be im­ple­mented in part­ner­ship with fund­ing agen­cies such as the World Bank and the African De­vel­op­ment Bank, forms the fi­nal phase of the mass power con­nec­tions that have ex­panded con­nec­tiv­ity to over 70 per­cent of house­holds from just 30 per­cent four years ago.

“Through this plan, we will en­sure every house­hold, even in the re­motest part of Kenya, will have ac­cess to elec­tric­ity which is a key en­abler for the re­al­iza­tion of the Vi­sion 2030,” Mr Keter said, adding that the gov­ern­ment was also de­ter­mined to en­sure that the cost of power is kept low to im­prove de­mand.

Un­der the sub­si­dized con­nec­tiv­ity plan, newly-sup­plied homes will pay Sh15,000 over time as they con­tinue to con­sume the power as has been done un­der the Last Mile con­nec­tiv­ity plan.

House­holds lo­cated within 15 kilo­me­tres of ex­ist­ing Kenya Power lines will be given pri­or­ity in what is ex­pected to yield 269,000 con­nec­tions. Ad­di­tional trans­form­ers will be in­stalled in new ar­eas to con­nect hous­ing clus­ters within 600 me­tres and two kilo­me­tres. This is ex­pected to get 2.7 mil­lion new cus­tomers con­nected.

Sup­pli­ers of mini grids have also been roped into the multi-bil­lion shilling project and are ex­pected to con­nect 35,000 house­holds from 121 mini grids lo­cated in ar­eas far from the na­tional grid.

Mr Keter said pri­vate in­vestors are ex­pected to pump in an­other Sh45 bil­lion to get two mil­lion house­holds con­nected us­ing stand-alone so­lar home sys­tems.

The gov­ern­ment, with the help of donors, promised to raise some Sh230 bil­lion to fi­nance the plan.

World Bank Coun­try Di­rec­tor Felipe Jaramillo pledged to sup­port the pro­gramme, terming it a crit­i­cal cat­a­lyst in any ef­fort to pro­mote busi­ness growth and re­duc­ing poverty.

“The World Bank stands ready to sup­port the gov­ern­ment in this am­bi­tious en­deav­our. The bank will con­tinue its long-term en­gage­ment to sup­port Kenya’s ef­fort to im­prove the lives of its ci­ti­zens,” Mr Jaramillo said.

Kenya Power, which is set to take more pres­sure un­der the ex­panded con­nec­tiv­ity plan, is ex­pected to play a key role in the pro­gramme, in­clud­ing op­er­a­tion of the mini grids and col­lec­tion of levies from cus­tomers to fi­nance elec­tric­ity ex­pan­sion and sub­si­dies. The power dis­trib­u­tor has been un­der fi­nan­cial pres­sure after sev­eral house­holds con­nected in a sim­i­lar fash­ion failed to con­sume power and pay bills.

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