Kenya’s Demand for Power Surges; Rising Tariffs Spur Costly Electricity Bills
Kenya’s demand for power hit record highs in the past few months. According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) sold an average of 800 million KWh in the last four months of last year. Moreover, KPLC sold 835 million Kilowatt-hours (KWh) in October 2021, the highest sales record for the firm. However, higher tariffs and taxes also saw the price of electricity spike by 15% in 2021.
Costly Power Bills
Kenya hit an historic high after consuming over 2,000 Megawatts(MW)in October 2021 . The 22.58% jump in power demand indicates the East African country is on the road to economic recovery. However, Covid-19 shocks in 2021 saw economic activity in the country shrink by 5.5% . In the face of lockdowns and harsh policing, industries and businesses were forced to cut down their activities to survive the pandemic.
A 40-month steady rise in power prices prompted a presidential directive to cut the prices by 15%. During Jamhuri day celebrations, the outgoing president ordered KPLC to cut the cost of power by 30%. the price cut is meant to be effected in two tranches. Despite the order, the Energy and Petroleum Authority (EPRA) raised the fuel cost charge instigated by higher fuel prices. Subsequently, power bills in January 2022 further rose by 2%.
Kenya’s Hunger for Power
Over the years, KPLC has injected more power to the grid in an effort to quench the insatiable local demand for electricity. In addition, total electricity generated in Kenya last year increased by 6.0%. Today, the power distributor has connected over 8 million Kenyans to the grid from 680,000 in 2003.
However, Kenya’s sole power distributor has been marred by graft and illegal power connections. The parastatal has averaged a loss of 22% over the past five years. According to the auditor General, KPLC lost Ksh. 39 billion for the year ended 2021 due to technical and financial losses. Moreover, inflation of power bills and system manipulation by KPLC staff robs the firm billions of revenue yearly.
Power to the people
In Uganda, the electricity sector has in the past experienced outages and suppressed demand. However, since 2013 demand for power in Uganda has peaked due to growth of the industrial sector. Furthermore, electricity exports from Uganda in 2020 increased by 13% earning the country a record $46 million dollars. However, Uganda only consumes half of the power it produces peaking at 650MWh. Much of the surplus is exported to Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and DR Congo.