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Kenya: More than 1 million people have now access to electricity

Kenya: More than 1 million people have now access to electricity

From the latest financial results, which were published at the end of February, Kenya Power said that by the end of the year the number of customers will will increased 6 million. Under the National Connectivity Project, the government wants to boost power penetration to 70% by the end of this year and 95% by 2021. These are far quicker rates of electrification than those achieved in the industrialized world or China.Kenya Power found that it is prioritizing the campaign over short term shareholder reward. 

Revenues increased for the six months to December 2016 and it generated a post-tax profit, up 13.5% on the same period in 2015.However, the firm has decided not to pay shareholders an interim dividend. Rather, it is using the money to continue the electrification program.

Ken Tarus the CEO of the company said that: "Cash balances decreased significantly due to an aggressive implementation of capital projects. The company is focused on implementation of key capital projects to ensure reliable power supply … the new infrastructure will expand the network, enhance the system's flexibility and reliability of power supply".

“The projects are at various stages of implementation with some scheduled for completion in the current financial year.” Its capital expenditure on distribution increased in the second half of 2015 for the same period last year. Kenya Power is one of two companies that are in charge of power in Kenyan. Kenya power controls transmission and distribution infrastructure and KenGen produces most of the electricity.

As the name suggests Kenya Power is for Kenyan government while KenGen is a private  company. Kenya Power biggest challenge is achieving rural electrification, where distances are bigger and people are less able to pay.

The latest figures from the Energy Regulatory Commission and Power of the country confirm that great progress has been made. The percentage of the population with has access to electricity in 2013 was 27%. At present this percentage has jumped to 55%.

Except from new transmission and distribution infrastructure, the electrification program will also require the generation of a lot more electricity. The Kenyan Government thinks that there  a combination of new KenGen projects, independent power producers (IPPs) and power imports from Ethiopia, probably from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, via a new cross-border inter connector that is scheduled for completion sometime after 2020.

Geothermal energy is particularly attractive because it provides base load electricity and is as reliable as oil, coal or gas-fired thermal power plants.However, it is also a low-carbon source of energy and so it is easier to tap into many international sources of funding than for more polluting technologies.

At the other end of the carbon scale, a regulatory battle is underway over the construction of a 985 MW coal-fired plant at the Port of Lamu by Amu Power Company, a Chinese-Kenyan joint venture. Some environmental groups oppose the scheme, in large part because of the associated air pollution. In addition, the discovery of up to 1.8 trillion cubic meters of gas on Block 9 by Canadian firm Africa Oil in 2014 could provide feed stock for a gas-fired power plant.

Kenya’s established large hydro schemes have been badly affected by drought and the accompanying low water levels on feeder reservoirs, but 550 MW of new hydro capacity has been slated. In addition, the government hopes to oversee the development of wind power generating capacity. Nairobi wants to achieve by 2020 a capacity of 6,766 MW.This project is is highly ambitious and unlikely to be met by that date but it could be reached soon after.
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