Easing power woes crucial

What you need to know:

  • Kenya Power has been fingered for corruption, inflated bills and extortion.
  • The recent countrywide power outages are a manifestation of laxity.

The decision to allow private firms to compete with Kenya Power, which has enjoyed a near monopoly for a long time, is welcome news for the long-suffering consumers.

The endemic power outages speak volumes about the utility’s lack of capacity and rampant inefficiency.

Of course, the firm has also been grappling with its outdated distribution infrastructure and mismanagement.

Kenya Power has also been fingered for corruption and notoriety for inflated bills and extortion by disconnecting supply over unpaid bills.

The recent countrywide power outages, some lasting even more than 10 hours, are a manifestation of laxity.

Last August, Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu shocked a parliamentary committee when she revealed that electricity consumers are being exploited through inflated bills.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) proposes to open up the electricity distribution sector for robust competition, in response to the perennial cries of consumers.

Power distribution

At the moment, only Kenya Power is allowed to sign electricity import agreements and has deals with Ethiopian and Ugandan corporations.

But the situation should dramatically change once private firms fully compete in power distribution. They will be licensed to import power from neighbouring countries.

That should lead to a revision of the tariff for the consumers’ benefit. A price reduction is quite likely. 

Epra’s draft Energy Electric Power Undertaking Licensing Regulations, 2024 is the most likely solution and should, therefore, be expedited.

It also proposes to allow firms generating power locally to also export it. That will, naturally, push Kenya Power to work harder and offer more competitive rates. 

The licence to import and distribute electricity is one of the five on offer. Others include contracting to build, operate and maintain electricity generation systems.

This is a good idea to improve service delivery by electricity suppliers and also protect consumers from exploitation by individuals and cartels.