Kenya Power must reduce wastage and lower bills

What you need to know:

  • The electricity utility is synonymous with wastage, mismanagement, outages and a glaring failure to connect millions of potential consumers to the national grid.
  • The biggest challenge now is to increase access to electricity and boost the reliability of supply.
  • Another source of the huge financial haemorrhage is the suspect power purchase deals with independent producers.

For an organisation that enjoys a near-monopoly, Kenya Power continues to baffle for its lacklustre performance.

The electricity utility is synonymous with wastage, mismanagement, outages and a glaring failure to connect millions of potential consumers to the national grid.

It’s often quick to disconnect customers for unpaid bills and relishes adjusting its tariffs. In other words, the public firm is overly concerned with short-term fixes.

The biggest challenge now is to increase access to electricity and boost the reliability of supply.

This calls for the development of infrastructure and streamlining of operations. A recent government audit confirmed the very perennial ills.

A task force appointed to look into its woes found that it posted a net loss of Sh2.98 billion in the financial year ended June 2020.

This is despite its apparent massive potential for profitability.

Overhaul

The auditors recommended an overhaul of the procurement department, where a lot of money has been lost through scandals.

Another source of the huge financial haemorrhage is the suspect power purchase deals with independent producers.

All these must be plugged in to bring down the cost of power. The task force made a raft of proposals to lower the cost of electricity by 33 per cent—from Sh24 per unit to Sh16.

But the consumers’ woes are far from over. This month, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) has granted an increase in foreign exchange charges on electricity bills.

While this is projected to rake in Sh700 million for Kenya Power, Epra has also raised the fuel cost charge to Sh6.79 per kilowatt-hour, up from Sh4.63. This was after ending a subsidy.

Only 8.6 million households, or 75 per cent of the slightly over 50 million population, are connected to the national grid.

Increased access to electricity is the best bet to boost national development through industrialisation and increased trade and business.

This calls for diversification of electricity generation by developing clean sources like wind and geothermal. 

Reforms should be speeded up to turn Kenya Power into an efficient and profitable entity providing reliable and cost-effective electricity to power national development and prosperity.

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