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Kenya Power, KenGen bosses to know their fate by next week

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter (right) and Kenya Power MD Ben Chumo at a past briefing. FILE PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
Energy CS Charles Keter (right) and Kenya Power MD Ben Chumo at a past briefing. Mr Keter said he would ensure “there is no vacuum” at the strategic State firms that must have substantive chief executives. FILE PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE  

Energy secretary Charles Keter says he will appoint chief executives for Kenya Power and KenGen by the end of the year, as the tenures of the current holders come to an end next week.

Mr Keter said he would ensure “there is no vacuum” at the strategic State firms that must have substantive chief executives.

“I’ll be making an announcement by the end of the year,” Mr Keter said in a response to queries by the Business Daily.

He also confirmed having received recommendations from the board of directors regarding the appointments.

Both Kenya Power chief executive Ben Chumo and his KenGen counterpart, Albert Mugo, began their three-year terms at the utility firms on January 7, 2014, meaning they have barely a week left to complete their tenure.

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The then Energy secretary Davis Chirchir made the appointments — including that of Laurencia Njagi as Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) director-general — the same day.

However, Ms Njagi turned down the ERC job after she landed a plum one at the World Bank where she works as a senior energy specialist. She was then Kenya Power’s company secretary.

The minister in August 2014 settled on Joe Ng’ang’a, who was ranked second in the interviews, to head the energy industry regulator.  Mr Ng’ang’a previously served as the ERC’s director in charge of electricity.

Mr Keter remained tight-lipped on whether he will renew Dr Chumo’s and Mr Mugo’s terms or appoint new office holders at Kenya Power and KenGen.

The Industrial Court last month issued orders stopping the Kenya Power board and the Energy secretary from giving Dr Chumo another term.

The State Corporations Act gives Cabinet secretaries wide-ranging powers to appoint chief executives of parastatals under their ministries.

The law only requires the ministers to consult with directors, who are usually State appointees.

High Court judge Nelson Abuodha in November issued temporary orders stopping the renewal of Dr Chumo’s tenure at Kenya Power after activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court arguing Dr Chumo had attained the retirement age of 60.

Kenya Power is a monopoly in electricity retail and distribution. The utility firm is also the largest employer among parastatals with a staff of 10,648 workers, followed by the Kenya Ports Authority with 6,543 employees.

For its part, KenGen is Kenya’s largest electricity producer, accounting for 70 megawatts out of every 100 megawatts generated. The listed company has an installed capacity of 1,630 megawatts.

Dr Chumo joined Kenya Power in 1986 as a human resource officer, rising to chief manager in charge of HR in 2003 before taking over in the corner office a decade later.

He was in July 2013 appointed acting CEO following the promotion of then Kenya Power boss, Joseph Njoroge, to serve as Energy PS. Dr Chumo received his doctorate degree in HR management from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in 2013.

His tenure at Kenya Power has seen electricity connections double to 4.87 million households and industries as at June 2016, from 2.3 million customers in June 2013 when he took office.

Mr Mugo presided over the phased injecting of the 280 megawatts of steam power from Olkaria beginning March 2014, helping tilt Kenya’s energy mix in favour of cheaper geothermal power. He also steered KenGen to raising Sh26.4 billion via a rights issue in May, the biggest cash call so far at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

If his term is renewed, Mr Mugo will oversee KenGen’s pipeline of projects to deliver an additional 706 megawatts by 2020.

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