Report: Kenya tops list of countries in improving access to electricity

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NAIROBI, KENYA - 2019/12/15: A man is seen fixing illegal connections from a legal power post set up by Kenya Power in Kibera Slums Lack of electricity had been and is still one of the poverty and problems faced by over 2 million citizens living in Kenya's largest informal settlement Kibera Slums. It is one of the big challenges that has participated in drugging down Kenya's economic growth as not everyone can pay the energy consumption bills. In Kibera Slums, Illegal Electricity acts as one of the basic needs to most owners of small businesses operating here from early mornings till late midnights and serves most jobless youths who depend on it as their main Source of Income by renting it out illegally for 2 to 3 dollars to be able to feed their families and pay their bills. Despite the 2015 joint collaboration of the World Bank and (K.P.L.C) Kenya Power and Lighting Corporation which is Kenya's main Power distributor to come together and create cheap and fair access to electricity. By creating electric tokens and being able to provide them to few numbers of homes, not everyone prefers this method but they instead run for the poor and risky illegal supply. Most of the time residents here have been enjoying the Illegal connection of electricity but most times they are attacked by abrupt skirmishes like fire outbreak and deaths from the naked uncovered wires running from Rooftops to different corners of the houses and underground leading to death and burning down of house and loss of Properties. (Photo by Donwilson Odhiambo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Kenya has been ranked as the top country in the world in reducing the population with no access to 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 bodies such as the International Energy Agency, says Kenya’s electrification pace is now ahead of population growth.

Kenya’s annualized increase in electricity access between 2010 and 2019 was at 5.6 percent — the largest among the top 20 countries in the world with the biggest electricity access gap. The increased pace of electrification, also supported by off-grid solutions such as solar, points to the fruits of the State’s last-mile connectivity program, which was launched in 2014 mainly targeting rural areas.

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

“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 report.

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 programs, 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 most of its rural customers consume about six units a month — an equivalent of Sh100.45 — leaving it with idle electricity. The report notes that unscheduled electricity interruptions are among the main challenges facing firms connected to the grid.

 

Original article published by Business Daily Africa

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