President Uhuru Kenyatta has finally delivered on his pledge to reduce the cost of power after weeks of public pressure.
On Friday, the Ministry of Energy defied dimming public expectations to announce a 23 per cent fall in electricity prices, more than two weeks after the Head of State’s deadline.
President Kenyatta, in his Jamhuri Day address, promised to lower electricity prices by a third, with the first half being achieved before Christmas Day and the other half during the first quarter of this year.
However, Christmas came and went, and so did the first day of the New Year day. On social media, Kenyans got busy making memes and lamenting how the promise of cheaper power had become one of the many of Jubilee government’s promises that were never fulfilled.
With each passing day, it increasingly looked like the President was inevitably going to end up with egg on his face as electricity prices went up instead of down as he had promised.
That was until Friday when the Energy ministry unexpectedly announced that power prices had been finally been lowered for a year following publication of a special gazette notice. This came after a reluctant tariff review by Kenya Power and approval by the energy regulator.
“The tariff reduction is a fulfilment of the commitment made by His Excellency President Kenyatta to the nation on Jamhuri Day 2021 that the first 15 per cent reduction in the cost of power will be reflected in bills covering the end year of 2021,” said the Ministry. “This reduction, coming in January, will boost livelihoods and economic growth by reducing the cost of living, put more money in Kenyans’ pockets and reduce the cost of doing business.”
The ministry added that it is working hard to reduce power bills by another 15 per cent before the end of March by renegotiating power purchase agreements (PPAs) that Kenya Power has signed with independent power producers.
Perhaps to make up for the delay in lowering the prices, the government cut the prices by 23 per cent for small power consumers.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) reduced the energy charge for domestic lifeline consumers by Sh2.3 per unit to Sh7.7 down from Sh10 since November 2018. These are consumers whose monthly power use does not exceed 100kWh.
This means that if they buy 100 units of electricity this month, they will pay Sh230 less.
“Applicable to domestic consumers for supply provided and metered by the company at 240 or 415 volts and whose consumption does not exceed 100 units per post-paid billing or pre-paid units purchase period: Energy Charge of Sh7.70 per unit for units consumed,” stated Epra.
Meanwhile, domestic consumers whose monthly consumption exceeds 100kWh but is below 15,000kWh will now pay Sh12.6 per unit down from Sh15.8, a 20 per cent reduction.
Kenya Power has 7.85 million lifeline and domestic customers, which is 94.85 per cent of its 8.27 million customer base.
Meanwhile, non-domestic small commercial consumers whose consumption does not exceed 100 units will pay Sh7.7 per unit down from Sh10. The same category of customers but whose consumption exceeds 100 units per month but is less than 15,000 units will be charged Sh12.4 per kWh down from Sh15.6.
The utility firm has 404,000 small commercial consumers.
At the same time, Epra has reduced the energy charge for commercial and industrial consumers of over 15,000 units monthly to Sh8.7 per unit during normal hours down from Sh12 per kWh. They have also been given a rate of Sh4.35 per unit for consumption during off-peak hours while the demand charge has been retained at Sh800 per kVA.
Government ministries, departments, agencies and county governments have also seen their tariffs lowered to Sh5.5 per unit down from Sh7.5 per unit.
However, other fixed costs such as the Epra levy, the rural electrification programme levy and inflation adjustment.
President Kenyatta will be quietly relieved that unlike other promises by his government that went unfulfilled, this one has at least come to pass.