Kenya’s Energy Sector Implements Positive Electricity Projects
Kenya’s Minister for Energy – Kiraitu Murungi – has in the last one week launched two projects that are bound to significantly change the country’s dark horizon and put the country into a high poverty eradication gear.
While launching the Energy week early this week, the minister announced the reduction of charges for new power connections by 50 per cent. The Minister also announced that those seeking news connections can also pay the deposits in instalments. The new charges come into effect immediately and will see rural areas based businesses pay a deposit of Sh5,000 (US$ 75) and clear the balance of Sh10,000 (US$ 150) in 10 monthly instalments. Domestic consumers will pay a deposit of Sh15,000 (US$ 226) and clear the remaining bit of Sh19,980 (US$ 300) in 12 monthly instalments. This is a significant reduction from the previous rates that required commercial and domestic consumers in the rural areas to pay Sh15,000 (US$ 226) and Sh34,980 (US$ 526) respectively to get connected to the national electricity grid. The connection charge reduction is expected to increase the pace at which Kenyans get electricity access in the rural and peri-urban areas and double the penetration rate in this segment of the population.
This is indeed very welcome news to Kenyans parlicularly those living in rural areas where electricity connection is low. It is gratifying that the reduction and flexible terms of payment are aimed at connecting more households and businesses to the national grid to spur economic growth in rural areas. With a 10% of the country having access to electricity, the target of raising that rate to 20 per cent of the population by 2010 and 40 per cent by 2020 underestimates the centrality of electricity to the realisation of Vision 2030.
During the same week, the minister also launched an ambitious multi-million shilling programme to light up slums countrywide. Nairobi slums will be the first beneficiaries and a budget of more than Sh130 million has already been set aside for 23 projects in the eight constituencies.
The slum lighting programme involves the use of a technology called Ready Board which constitutes a unit fitted inside the house and connected directly to the power pole using single phase service cable. The advantage of the technology is that slum residents will not be required to wire up houses before electricity is supplied. The Ready Board unit will retail at a fixed fee of only Kshs.2000/-.
All Kenyans must welcome these reforms which – although belated – portend bright prospects for the country in terms of industrial and technological developments. Hopefully, these projects will not be used merely as electoral campaign gimmicks and the new government that takes over next year will carry forward in the same spirit.