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Economy

House seeks to end Kenya Power's monopoly

A Kenya Power worker inspects a transmission line. Electricity distribution will soon be liberalised after Parliament voted to end the monopoly which has been enjoyed by the Kenya Power and Lighting Company for over 50 years. Photo/File
A Kenya Power worker inspects a transmission line. Electricity distribution will soon be liberalised after Parliament voted to end the monopoly which has been enjoyed by the Kenya Power and Lighting Company for over 50 years. Photo/File 

Electricity distribution will soon be liberalised after Parliament voted to end the monopoly which has been enjoyed by Kenya Power for over 50 years.

The MPs said the move will encourage competition, improve efficiency, and reduce the high cost of power thereby attracting investors into the country.

The MPs approved a motion by Marakwet East MP David Bowen opening doors for the introduction of a Bill to liberalise power distribution.

The MPs also want the sole electricity distributor to compensate those who have incurred losses including loss of property through fires, power outages and surges.

The Marakwet East MP said electrical faults resulting in fires and loss of property is not compensated by KPLC yet consumers have no alternative electricity suppliers to turn to, thus the need for the sector to be liberalised.

Mr Bowen said Kenya as East Africa’s largest economy remains a minor electricity supplier with a low penetration level of about 15 per cent and expressed concern that Kenya Power, as a strategic national agency, appears to be grossly inefficient in its operations.

He said that 85 per cent of the population country’s population with a three per cent annual growth rate did not have access to electricity with power outages and surges becoming a daily norm especially during long rains.

“The cost of connecting power in rural areas is prohibitive to the poor and has hampered efforts to encourage growth of small industries,” he stated while initiating debate on the motion.

If the Bill is enacted into law, Mr Bowen said the electricity industry will be fully liberalised and Kenya stands to gain in the growth of industries which have been stifled by high cost of power.

“KPLC should be held accountable for damages to their clients’ property whenever surges and outages are experienced,” said Victor Munyaka, the MP for Machakos Town.

He said power generation should not be a preserve of KPLC adding that power generation, evacuation and distribution should be fully liberalized to meet the rising demands of power in the country.

“Other than changing its colours and the name from Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) to Kenya Power Company (KPC) which has no impact on its performance, the company has been insensitive to the tribulations their clients have been subjected to over the years,” said Mr Olago Aluoch the Kisumu Town West MP.

Kibwezi MP Jessica Nduku said issues of price arises when monopoly is encouraged adding that is need for other supply and distribution agencies to be licensed to lower cost.

She said connection fees of Sh70,000 were too high making electricity unaffordable to many Kenyans.

“We need better connection fees so that many Kenyans can access power. We need to instruct through this motion that the power distribution be liberalised,” she said.

Emuhaya MP Wilbur Ottichilo called for speedy reforms in the energy sector owing to its immense contribution to economic growth.

He said cheap electricity generation and distribution will encourage more industries, investors and Kenyans to do business.

“Frequent power black outs are issues that are adversely affecting the economy. Rolling our mobile phone networks to rural areas has been impeded by the lack of electrification,” said Samburu North MP Musa Lentoimaga.

The MPs accused KPLC of monopolising the electricity distribution sector for 50 years. They said Kenya Power had failed to modernise and change its management style in line with the changing times.

“The adoption of solar and geothermal power has to be encouraged with lakes and rivers being used to generate electricity so that Kenya can be in the same league with developing countries like Argentina,” observed Kibra MP Kenneth Okoth.

He warned that Vision 2030 would not be realised without adequate power supply to consumers at affordable rates to spur industrial growth.

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