July posts record electricity use as economic activities surge

Power usage

Kenya Power sold a record 881.01 million units of electricity in July as demand spiked despite prevailing high prices.

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Kenya Power sold a record 881.01 million units of electricity in July as demand spiked despite prevailing high prices, signalling a rise in economic activities especially among large consumers.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), say the utility saw its sales grow by 3.5 per cent in July from 850.53 million units it sold in the previous month.

Local power use fluctuates monthly based on current market dynamics including prices and economic activities being carried out within the period.

Kenya Power has also been aggressively adding hundreds of thousands of new customers to the national grid each year helping it attract new demand from both household and commercial consumers.

In a telling twist, the 3.5 per cent rise in power use in July came after the energy regulator reduced electricity prices by a similar margin in that month’s monthly prices review.

In the July prices review, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) cut the fuel energy charge to Sh4.02 per unit down from Sh4.49. It further reduced the foreign exchange rate fluctuation adjustment to Sh1.75 per unit down from Sh2.06 per unit.

Power prices remain high, especially after Epra this year approved new tariffs that increased charges by as much as 63 per cent from April, but the marginal reduction in July appears to have stimulated higher usage, especially by large power users.

“Total local electricity generation increased from 1,035.36 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in June 2023 to 1,115.46 million kWh in July 2023. Total electricity consumption increased from 850.53 million kWh in June 2023 to 881.01 million kWh in July 2023,” said KNBS.

The higher power demand also defied anti-government demos that rocked the country for parts of July led by the Opposition which saw activities in major towns across the country grind to a near standstill.

Various business groups estimated the economic losses arising from the demonstrations at about Sh3 billion each day.

Power usage in Kenya is, however, not growing as fast as it should – consumption stood at 862.05 million units in July last year – indicating that the country is industrialising at a slow pace.

Kenya is betting on renewable energies for cheaper power in a bid to attract investors who are currently spooked by the high cost of doing business amid the high cost of fuel, electricity, and increased taxation.

“The company is pursuing an optimal generation expansion pathway to remain competitive while ensuring adequacy and security of power supply. This process will enable onboarding of renewable sources of energy at a lower cost to spur consumption,” said Kenya Power in its annual report.