Kenya to promote mini-grids to achieve universal electricity access

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)
FILE PHOTO: A man is seen fixing illegal connections from a legal power post set up by Kenya Power in Kibera Slums in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. (Photo by Donwilson Odhiambo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Kenya plans to promote the development of mini-grids in order to achieve universal electricity access by the end of 2022, the energy regulator said on Friday.

Daniel Kiptoo Bargoria, director-general of the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) told journalists in Nairobi that the main national electricity grid extension is expected to plateau due to the high cost of connecting households that are distant from the existing network.

“This calls for alternative strategy such as use of isolated electricity networks with own generation with a view to electrifying unserved areas,” Bargoria said in a speech read on his behalf by Caroline Kimanthi, principal renewable energy officer, EPRA.

Government data indicates that electricity access currently stands at about 70 percent.

Bargoria observed that over two hundred and eighty mini-grids will be completed by the end of 2022 making the total number of operating mini-grids increase to more than four hundred in the next two years.

He revealed that the government is keen to encourage the development of mini-grids in rural Kenya so as to provide a cheaper and cleaner energy alternative to the commonly used energy supplies such as batteries and kerosene lamps.

The energy regulator said that it will continue to support public entities and private investors in the development of mini-grids in the country.

“It is important to note that these mini-grids, most of which are powered by renewable energy resources, accelerate access to safe, affordable, sustainable, and reliable energy for all Kenyans,” Bargoria noted.

Kenya is currently developing the Energy (Mini-Grid) Regulations 2021 that will facilitate a clear and competitive process for licensing and interconnection of the mini-grids to the main grid.