More than half of Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC customers spend below Sh305 on electricity per month in what has seen demand remain low despite a sharp increase in connections to the national power grid.
The monthly power bills of 3.6 million households of the 6.5 million connected to the national grid is Sh305 or Sh10 a day, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) says.
This reveals the low living standards among majority Kenyan households and comes days after the World Poverty Clock report ranked the country eighth globally on extreme poverty list.
Homes that pay Sh305 use 15 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity or less every month, meaning majority of them use electricity for charging phones and lighting a few rooms. They are likely not plugged to gadgets like fridges, TV, cookers and micro waves.
This bottom-end segment accounts for 55 per cent of Kenya Power’s total customer base of 6.5 million.
Millions of homes have recently been hooked to the power grid under a government subsidy meant to speed up electrification.
This has increased Kenya Power’s customer base from about two million in 2013 to 6.5 million.
Most are, however, in remote areas and slums with low consumption levels since their power use is limited to lighting and charging phones, and playing small electronic appliances.
But Kenya Power sales have not grown in tandem with the three-fold customer growth.
Power sales have increased 38 per cent since 2013 when number of those connected to the grid jumped 225 per cent.
A proposed billing structure has seen ERC marginally cut tariffs for the low-end consumers using less than 15 units of power per month.
In the new billing, a user of 15 units per month will pay about Sh295, down from Sh304.50, a three per cent drop.
The new rates have only favoured poor homes under the State’s subsidised lifeline tariff while the charges for consumers above 15 units a month have increased.
Under the new regime, homes that consume 50 units monthly will pay nearly double at Sh1,247, up from last month’s Sh691.
Consumers of 200 units of power will be set back Sh4,988, up from Sh4,106 in June, based on all charges loaded on power bills, including 16 per cent valued added tax (VAT) and adjustable costs.
The ERC data shows that some 2.5 million households consume between 16 units of electricity and 1,500 units monthly.
Commercial customers, including businesses and factories, comprise the remaining 348,459 customers and accounting for a paltry five per cent of Kenya Power’s total customer count.
Only 6,000 large power users with a consumption of above 15,000 units per month account for about 60 per cent of Kenya Power revenues, with most of them located in the capital Nairobi.