Kenya tops in new power connections, says report

Power connection

Kenya has been ranked as the top country in the world in reducing households without electricity.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenya has been ranked as the top country in the world in reducing households without electricity pointing to the impact of the State’s focus on rural areas for nearly a decade.

The Energy Progress Report for 2021, a product of a partnership between the World Bank and agencies such as International Energy Agency, says Kenya’s electrification pace is now ahead of population growth.

The country’s annualised increase in electricity access between 2010 and 2019 was at 5.6 percent—the largest among the top 20 nations in the world with huge electricity access gap.

Increased pace of electrification, also supported by off-grid solutions such as solar, points to the fruit of the State’s last mile connectivity programme that was launched in 2014 mainly targeting rural zones.

The country’s growth dwarfed the world’s average growth of 0.8 percent, with the closest nations to Kenya being Bangladesh (4.1 percent), Uganda (3.2 percent), Tanzania (2.5 percent), India (2.4 percent), Myanmar and Democratic People's Republic of Korea with 2.2 percent each.

Made most progress

“Among the 20 countries with the largest deficits, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Uganda have made the most progress in electrification, as they achieved annual growth in access of more than three percentage points between 2010 and 2019,” says the study. The report, however, says Kenya is yet to start drawing maximum socio-economic benefits from the increased electrification. The improving electricity access, the report says, should be complemented by promoting productive uses of the power.

“Kenya’s recent efforts at last-mile electrification have not resulted in any real increase in consumption of electricity beyond basic services, putting into question the viability of costly grid connections,” says the report.

“To date, Kenya’s electrification programmes, like most, have encouraged supply while overlooking the need to stimulate demand, especially demand for productive uses of electricity.”

Kenya Power recently admitted to this problem, saying that majority of its rural customers consume about six units a month—an equivalent of Sh100.45— leaving it with idle electricity.