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Kenya Power to import cables if local firms can’t meet demand

Dr Ben Chumo, Kenya Power managing director. PHOTO | FILE
Dr Ben Chumo, Kenya Power managing director. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya Power says it will resort to importing cables for the Last Mile Connectivity Project (LMCP) if local manufacturers fail to satisfy demand.

The power distributor Tuesday said local manufacturers were unable to meet demand.

LMCP project co-ordinator Francis Kahumbi said local manufacturers were producing less than 30 per cent of what is required.

“If you cannot compete on speed, no matter how much I want to give you business as a local guy, there is the vision of the government to have people connected by April 2017.

‘‘What it means is that we shall be forced to source from outside the country,” said Mr Kahumbi.

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The LMCP has opened doors for local manufacturers to supply poles, cables, meters and other accessories.

“For you to connect customers you need to link them with speed, and this is a shortcoming. So, if we are not able to meet demand then there is an opportunity,” he said.

Speaking during a one-day forum on the importance of adhering to standards in making electric cables, organised by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) in Nairobi, Mr Kahumbi said local manufacturers need to put up more production lines as demand rises for large quantities of cable.

The government targets to connect over 70 per cent of households to the national grid by April 2017.

The project requires a total of 24,055 kilometres of cables, 139,181 kilometres of conductors, 1.241 million meter boxes and 1.071 million wooden and concrete poles.

Last week, Kenya Power managing director Ben Chumo said the distributor spent Sh6.2 billion in buying locally manufactured goods in the first quarter of 2016/2017, which was in line with the Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative meant to promote the local manufacturing sector.

The company bought pre-paid meters worth Sh4.7 billion in the year to June 30 from the local market. It has also budgeted to spend Sh424 million on locally assembled transformers during the current financial year.

In July, the power company published new procurement guidelines, which stated that 80 per cent of all electricity distribution equipment will be sourced from the country.

“Kenya Power has taken a deliberate step to prioritise purchase of equipment and materials from the local market to encourage manufacturers to set up plants in Kenya.

‘‘The aim is to retain at least 80 per cent of the company’s annual procurement budget, which stands at Sh54 billion, in the country,” the firm said in a statement last week.

Kebs standards manager Titus Oyoo said that to prevent an influx of low-quality cables into the local market, the corporation has developed standards to ensure high quality of locally made or imported products.

“Since we have standards for cables we request your cooperation in ensuring compliance with them to curb an influx of low-quality products into the market and ultimately ensure the products meet customers’ expectations in terms of quality and performance,” he said.

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