The nominee for the Energy and Petroleum docket, Davis Chirchir, has one of the toughest tasks with expensive and unreliable energy supplies haunting the industrialisation dream.
Despite availability of huge reserves of energy-generation sources such as wind and geothermal, the country continues to pay a heavy price as export markets are flooded by South African and Egyptian (whose fuel is ridiculously subsidised) goods.
Though the energy sector is critical in boosting the country’s economic growth, it has lagged partly due to the high initial capital outlay and inability to mobilise adequate financial resources to undertake such massive investment.
“Kenya is a country of great opportunities. We can’t be competitive if the cost of power is what it is today,” Mr Chirchir said Thursday after his nomination. “We shall ensure the power we give to Kenya is cheaper for them to be competitive.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta said last week that his government plans to open the energy sector to bigger participation by the private sector to help boost the country’s power generation capacity.
“The energy market must be liberalised and opened up to new sources of investment, so that we can expand generating capacity, extend our transmission network, improve the consistency and quality of supply and lower the cost of energy for the Kenyan citizens,” he said when he opened a joint sitting of the 11th Parliament.
There is renewed hope of attracting more funds into energy projects following the activation of a new law that allows private sector participation in public projects.
The Treasury said the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Act came into effect in February, paving way for improved joint ventures with the private sector in key projects.
The country has also struck significant reserves of oil that have raised hope for commercial viability. Oil is one of the country’s most expensive imports, despite the fact that key sectors of the economy such as agriculture and transportation are heavily reliant on it.
Developing local reserves would bring a big relief to a huge import bill that has effect on macroeconomic prices such as inflation.
Mr Chirchir, 53, previously served as general manager of the defunct Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC) where he coordinated the restructuring of the organisation to create Telkom Kenya, Communication Commission of Kenya, Postal Corporation of Kenya and staff Pension Fund. He also co-ordinated the privatisation of Telkom Kenya and establishment of Safaricom.
He holds an MBA in International Management from Royal Holloway School of Management, University of London and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Physics from the University of Nairobi.