Mandera governor Ali Roba has blamed poor power supply for the low level of investment in the county. Mr Roba said investors were giving the county a wide berth because of outages.
Mandera is not connected to the national grid and Kenya Power uses diesel-powered generators in the region with high temperatures.
The erratic power supply has compounded the insecurity challenge in the county as terrorists take advantage of the darkness to plan and execute attacks in the town.
“We have complained and discussed this problem at the highest level— with the President — who had promised in May that additional megawatts of power will be made available in Mandera. A worn out generator was brought but the power is at the same level as it was before,” said the governor.
Mr Roba said in the last three years investors in four industries withdrew plans to set up in the region due to power surges.
“There were plans for a world-class abattoir, tannery, fruits factory and a bakery which could have propelled Mandera’s economy. Interested stakeholders in these critical industries have developed cold feet of venturing into the county, which is a regional business hub in Northern Kenya,” said Mr Roba.
He said the Ministry of Energy should give priority to connecting the county to the national grid to serve power needs.
The county government has, however, installed solar street lights in Elwak, Takaba, Banisa Rhamu, Lafey and Mandera sub-counties. “A hundred per cent of all terror attacks happen at night in the darkest corners. We need this issue to be tackled with the seriousness it deserves,” said Mr Roba.
Mandera County Kenya Power manager Ali Ibrahim said the high demand for power in Mandera town, which outdoes their supply was causing many technical issues.
“We have four generators which produce 2.5 megawatts. They heat up, forcing us to switch them off leading to power black outs in town especially during the day,” he said. Mr Ibrahim said plans are complete to establish a two-megawatt solar energy plant.
“Initially, we served 6,000 customers but increased it under the government project of lighting homes by 2,000 new connections which cannot be served by our diesel generators,” he said.
Township MCA Feizal Abdinoor said: “While outages in other parts of the country are advertised, this is not the case with Mandera. Kenya Power should treat us the way they treat other Kenyans.”