Kerosene use dips 39pc as high prices choke homes

kerosene lamp

A kerosene lamp. Kerosene consumption fell by 39.45 per cent to 69.53 million litres last year,

Photo credit: Fotosearch

What you need to know:

  • Kerosene is mainly used by low-income households in Kenya.
  • Epra data says consumption of petrol and diesel was also affected in 2023.

Kerosene consumption fell by 39.45 per cent to 69.53 million litres last year, the sharpest drop among all the three categories of petroleum products hurt by record-high prices that left poor households choking.

Data by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) shows that kerosene uptake fell from 114.84 million litres in 2022--highlighting the impact of the financial sting that low-income homes took from the hard economic times during the period.

Kerosene is mainly used by low-income households in Kenya for cooking and lighting and upward price movements have a direct impact on affordability of the product. Market figures show that prices of kerosene rose by the highest margin in 2023 to close the year at Sh199.05 a litre in Nairobi, up from Sh145.94 at the start of the period.

Epra data says consumption of petrol and diesel was also affected in 2023. Consumption of petrol fell by 4.76 per cent to two billion litres last year compared to 2.1 billion in 2022 while that of diesel dropped 4.46 per cent to 2.57 billion litres from 2.69 billion litres in the same period.

Pump prices

The drop came in the period when pump prices jumped by between Sh35 and Sh53 per litre between January and December last year, sending fuel prices past the Sh200-a litre mark for the first time in Kenya’s history.

A litre of super petrol closed the year at Sh212.36, a Sh35.06 rise from the Sh177.30 at start of the year while that of diesel retailed at Sh201.47-- a Sh39.47 rise from Sh162 in the same period.

A combination of factors including doubling of the value-added-tax on petroleum products to 16 per cent in June 2023, fast weakening shilling against the dollar and increases in prices of refined fuel globally sent local pump prices skyrocketing.

Travel restrictions

The shilling exchanged at 158.81 units to the dollar in December last year compared to 133.98 units at the start of the year.

Last year’s fuel consumption levels mirrored patterns of 2020 when travel restrictions enforced to curb the spread of the Coronavirus cut demand from motorists, businesses, and industries.

Kenyans throughout last year grappled with the skyrocketing cost of living amid increased taxation that thinned the amount of disposable income.

Increased taxation in the form of higher deductions for the National Social Security Fund, National Health Insurance Fund, and housing levy that hit the monthly earnings of salaried workers.

Thinning earnings forced households and firms to cut spending, to navigate the tough economic times, in a year when inflation averaged 7.7 percent.