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United States government pledges funds to Kenya's Sh1.8 trillion power deficit

By Graham Kajilwa | Published Tue, January 5th 2016 at 13:59, Updated January 6th 2016 at 09:06 GMT +3
US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec

Kenya needs up to Sh1.8 trillion (USD 18 billion) to make electricity more affordable and accessible to citizens, US has revealed.

In order to achieve this, the government through the ministry of energy, is coming up with a radical investment plan by lobbying funds not only from public sectors but also private with inclusion of foreign donors.

"Our aim is to reduce the cost of accessing and sustaining power. This is only possible with substantial amount of funding to the right projects to facilitate generation, transmission and distribution of electricity," said Energy CS Charles Keter.

The US government has already expressed interest of funding some of the projects both at national and county level.

This is through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the President Barack Obama's Power Africa Projects that will facilitate both ongoing and new projects.

In 2015, through a feasibility test done by USAID, over 15 sites in Meru County were marked with potential of over 144 megawatts.

Speaking during a visit to the energy CS, US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec noted that powering Kenya is one of the priorities for his government with keen focus on small power projects.

"Making small hydro and solar projects operational will immensely reduce on the cost of accessing power as main grids are usually located far from the needy communities," said Godec.

Godec said most of the projects his government will invest in are in renewable energy: "Power Africa is more focused on renewable energy in order to make it sustainable with less environmental effect which Kenya has shown great commitment in."

The Sh700 billion (USD 7 billion) Power Africa Project seeks to add more than 10,000 megawatts renewable energy in order to connect at least 20 million households and commercial premises.

In 2015, the government commissioned a Sh72 billion 310 megawatt power project in a bid to reduce electricity costs that has been faulted on dependence on hydro and geothermal plants.

By 2017, the government aims to have 70 per cent of the population on the national grid by connecting at least one million households every financial year.