World Bank to help Kenya connect poor households to electricity grid

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The World Bank said on Sunday that it will help Kenya connect poor households to the country’s electricity grid.

World Bank Kenya program leader on the sustainable development sector, Meskerem Brhane, told Xinhua in Nairobi that the bank was currently financing a pilot project to connect 15,000 households in informal settlements in Kenya to electricity.

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“The World Bank has given Kenya a grant of 11 million U.S. dollars to connect an additional 25,000 to 30,000 households in the urban slums beginning in December,” Brhane said.

Brhane said low-income households in Kenya can’t afford to pay the cost of electricity connection and therefore turn to other alternatives such as kerosene lamps.

Brhane said some of the households in informal settlements tap illegally into the national electricity grid. “This is both bad for the transmission network and risky for the households,” she said.

She said Kenya had performed “relatively well” in expanding access to electricity, but pointed out the issue of land acquisition as a challenge to Kenya’s efforts to extend its electricity system.

Official data shows nearly 50 percent of Kenyans have access to the national grid.

World Bank is also funding the Kenya-Ethiopia electricity transmission line.

The power interconnection is part of the East African Power Pool which will allow trade of electricity in the region.

“The regional power pool will also help to bring down the cost of electricity in Eastern Africa,” Brhane said.

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