Nairobi accounted for more than half of Kenya Power’s #ticker:KPLC electricity sales over the past four years, reflecting the capital city’s economic dominance over the other 46 devolved units created in 2013 to address the wealth imbalance.
New data released by the power distribution firm show that Nairobi accounted for 50.2 per cent of its unit sales in the year to June, just above the half-level mark it has held since 2013 when the country ushered in devolution.
The remaining 46 counties jointly held a 49.8 per cent share of power demand in the review period, having narrowly grown from a 47 per cent share over the past four years, according to Kenya Power’s financial report.
The heavy concentration of power consumption in Nairobi indicates inequality in the country’s economic development, which has partly been attributed to the previous centralised system of government which guided sharing of resources since independence.
The devolved system of government raised hopes of addressing the economic imbalance, but analysts say there is need to offer incentives to attract private investors to counties.
“When devolution set in we expected many things to happen, including creation of new industries. We expected that institutions would consume an upwards of 5,000 megawatts. We were prepared to give them power but we were slowed down by lack of demand,” Energy secretary Charles Keter said earlier.
Power consumption is often an indicator of the number of electrical equipment plugged into the national grid — including industrial machinery — pointing to economic output.
It may also be a result of increased use of home appliances such as TV sets and refrigerators that point to improvement in household incomes and rising standards of living.
Nairobi has the largest concentration of industries and wealthy homes in the country, with half of the large power users located in the city’s Industrial Area and central business district.
In the period to June, Kenya’s maximum power demand stood at 1,656 megawatts, out of which 831 megawatts came from Nairobi, representing a 50.2 per cent share.
Kenya Power has divided the country into four regions; Nairobi, Mount Kenya, Coast and Western.
Mt Kenya, which includes North Eastern region, is the least consumer having used up 1,135 GWh.
This is lower than the consumption in Coast, which has less consumers, indicating more consumption per capita at the Coast.
While the number of Kenya Power customers in Nairobi doubled since 2013 to 2, 099, 574, new connections in other regions grew faster with electricity users growing from 835, 202 to 4, 082, 708 in the period under review, reflecting a 388 per cent jump.
The Kenya Power data also revealed Nairobi’s dominant use of street lighting, with consumption relating to streets lights being 29GWh or 51.3 per cent of the total country usage.
Nairobi consumed 15GWh of street lighting in 2013 or two thirds of the total country usage, a pointer that counties have made strides in lighting up their roads.