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Drop cost of energy, Uhuru orders producers

27 July 2016, 21:07 PSCU

Nairobi - President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered a review of contracts awarded to independent power producers. 

He said the contracts should be pegged on the respective entities' performance to ensure Kenyans have access to reliable power at affordable rates.

Uhuru said his administration was keen to cut power costs, and widen coverage beyond the 56 per cent already achieved.

The President made it clear that the private sector was a partner in widening access, but that costs would have to be checked.

"As we go forward, we want to encourage private sector participation in power generation. But it must be done in a transparent manner to ensure Kenyans get maximum benefit," he said.

Uhuru added: "Those arrangements that are not cost-effective to the Kenyan people must be terminated – in a legal way – in the shortest time possible,"

The President was speaking at the State House Energy Summit, which brought together energy stakeholders – heavy power consumers, small scale consumers, and independent power producers.

Senior government officials, citizens and the media were present at the televised summit organised by the President’s communications team, ministry of Energy and the Presidential Delivery Unit.

The President challenged power producers and manufacturers not to transfer their inefficiencies to consumers.

He said Kenyans had a right to benefit from the government’s initiatives targeting to reduce cost of power.

"Why should the prices of basic commodities continue to rise while the cost of power has significantly reduced," Uhuru said, further lauding progress made beyond the 27 per cent coverage reported in 2013.

The President said his administration would meet the power needs of individual as well as industrial consumers at reliable and affordable rates.

"And our objective of increasing supply and reliability in order to give access to electricity to all Kenyans at an affordable rate is firmly on course. But more important, we want to ensure that our industries are also able to access power that can make us globally competitive," Uhuru said, noting that connections to schools were at 90 per cent.

He disclosed that the government was working with the World Bank to expand off-grid power to ensure access in areas not served by the national grid.

"We are aggressively pushing this program because we want to ensure Kenyans – regardless of where they are – have access to power," he said.

The President observed that increased access to power would stimulate commercial activity, boost economic growth and create jobs across the country.

Fielding questions during a panel discussion, Energy CS Charles Keter said the country was moving away from thermal power production - a situation deemed to make electricity even cheaper.

"Kenya’s power generation had reached unprecedented levels with global experts saying that the country has a surplus," Keter said. 

Nonetheless, the CS assured that the government would raise its power production to make prices more competitive.

Keter said the focus towards construction of more power substations and transmission lines to boost supplies will be maintained.

"The government has constructed and upgraded 81 power substations between 2013 and June 2016," the CS reported adding that this has seen the consumer base expand from 2.2 million households in March 2013, to 4.9 million households by June 2016.

Keter said 22,245 primary schools have been connected to power with 18,074 on mains grid while 4,171 others served by solar.

Ben Chumo, Kenya Power managing director, said the cost of power will come down further adding that 35 towns and urban centres in 27 counties have been lit since 2013, under the street-lighting program.

The program, funded by the national government at a cost of Sh7.6 billion, will benefit 65 towns and urban centres across the country.

Other speakers included Energy PS Joseph Njoroge and KETRACO managing director Fernandes Barasa. 

- MyNews24

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