President William Ruto yesterday directed all schools and public institutions to ditch firewood and other fuels for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) by 2025 in a new plan he said is aimed at lowering costs.
The President said the three-year plan will also include regulating cooking gas prices to stabilise the market and reduce the usage of dirtier fuels that harm the environment while worsening the country’s disease burden.
“Public institutions and schools that use firewood and biomass as their cooking fuel will have to transition to LPG and ensure that this is completed by 2025. As Kenya pursues clean and green growth, it is imperative to match the effort to curb climate change by embracing environmentally friendly alternatives,” he said.
He spoke at the Special Economic Zone in Dongo Kundu, Mombasa, during the launch of the multibillion-shilling cooking gas plant and storage facility owned by Tanzanian tycoon Rostam Aziz’s Taifa Gas. Taifa Gas is the largest LPG supplier in Tanzania and has been feeding the Kenyan retail market via road.
The plan, Dr Ruto said, is aimed at cutting reliance on firewood, kerosene and charcoal, which are widely used in most rural and urban poor households.
He said LPG is increasingly becoming a cost-effective and convenient fuel in most households.
Dr Ruto directed Energy Cabinet Secretary Davies Chirchir to ensure that the plan is actualised.
“The cost of gas will decrease because we will do away with the tax levied on the same. CS Chirchir you have the marching orders and you know what you must do so that, in three years, every household in Kenya has [access to] subsidised cooking gas,” Dr Ruto said.
President Ruto said his government had approved construction of a 45,000 metric tonnes facility instead of the requested 30,000. Coming at a time when gas prices have hit an all-time high, the President said investment in more LPG terminals and stores will drive consumer prices in a sustainable way. As part of the subsidised gas plan, the government is mulling giving out gas cylinders for free or at subsidised prices.
“The government is keen on increasing the per capita consumption of LPG at household level. This will be achieved through the development of a common user terminal for LPG at the port of Mombasa and we will implement the open tender system in the importation of LPG to achieve competitive and efficient pricing of the product,” he said.
The President also ordered a crackdown on the sale of cooking gas on the black market.
Under the 2019 regulations, it is illegal for a trader to refill LPG in cylinders of another brand unless with prior written consent from the brand owner.
The LPG industry has been grappling with the illegal trade, prompting gazettement of the regulations three years ago to contain the vice. According to the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra), consumption of LPG rose by 16.5 per cent in 2021, totalling 373,865 tonnes.
Taifa Gas will construct a terminal with 12 LPG spheres, each with a capacity of 2,500 tonnes, adding up to 30,000 tonnes in on 30 acres next to the port.
It will also have other facilities including one bullet tank of 200 tonnes, pump room, fire-fighting system, driveway and truck parking facilities, bulk loading area, ablution block, power control room and a weigh bridge.
Create 90,000 jobs
Taifa Gas Managing Director Veneranda Masoum said the project will create 90,000 direct and indirect jobs. The company intends to invest in 10 re-filling facilities, distributors networks and point of sale centres across the country at a cost of $55 million (Sh7 billion) bringing the total Taifa Gas investment in Kenya to $130.5 million (Sh16.5 billion).
Yesterday, Dr Ruto spoke of regulatory hurdles Taifa Gas faced in getting approvals to set up the plant.
“I want to congratulate Mr Aziz, you are a resilient investor. I know the struggles you have gone through to get to this day. This investment should have happened five years ago but because of bureaucracy and negative politics, it was delayed.”
Mr Aziz lamented the many obstacles that frustrate investors in Kenya and Tanzania.
“We must leverage on our good neighbourliness. We are happy that in the short period of his presidency, Dr Ruto has dealt with these issues head on and with action,” Mr Aziz said.
On politics, Dr Ruto said he would not allow the opposition led by Orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Odinga to lecture him on how to run the government.
“I have stabilised the economy. Now, I’m now dealing with the high cost of living. There is no need to threaten people with protests because you had five years of the handshake shenanigans and is the reason why the cost of living is where it is today,” Mr Ruto said of the mass protests planned by the opposition.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the Kenya Kwanza administration will continue serving Kenyans despite the “political noise” by their rivals.