Administration officials are happy crime rate in the coast region has plunged courtesy of the National government’s Sh18.5 billion Last Mile Connectivity linking close to one million households to the power grid.
The project together with the street lighting initiative is driving the crime rate down and officials are happy it is restoring confidence, increase small scale trade and boosting tourism in the coast region.
For 52-year old Mama Janet Mtsanze, a resident of the Muoroto Slums overlooking the Tudor Creek in Mombasa County is counting her blessings after her small house was lit up courtesy of the Last Mile Project courtesy of Kenya Power.
The Last Mile Connectivity Project, is a joint project between the government of Kenya and World Bank, and is aimed at increasing electricity access to Kenyans across the country.
It involves extending, low voltage network in the single phase to reach households within 600 metre radius from a transformer, thereby reducing the cost of accessing electricity for the customer and supply for the power provider. The project is being implemented in three phases.
For Mama Mtsanze, getting electricity connected to her house has turned around the fortunes by attracting more tenants to her home.
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“I had very few tenants taking up occupancy in my rental house because it lacked electricity but when it was connected to the power grid, things have changed and there is no empty room left. It is a major development shift and people can associate or link it with work of the current government,’’ she said.
The connection has also improved her communication to her clients and family as she can easily charge her mobile phone from the comfort of her room. Before she had to leave it overnight at the adjacent Shopping Centre and pay Sh20 for the service.
A few metres away is another tenant Saumu Charo, who is comfortable to iron her clothes without fear of staining them with charcoal or ash.
“We are upbeat over electricity installation here. Security which used to be a major challenge when darkness set is no longer an issue since the area allover is well lit and people can go about their business day and night ,’’ she said.
The story is the same for Iddi Tsuma, a local fisherman who is now able to store fish catch after landing them at the local beach within the sprawling slum village.
“I have power connected to my small store where I have a refrigerator from where I store fish before taking them to the market. Unlike before when fish catch would go to waste since there was no cold storage facility here,’’ he said.
The 1st phase of the Mile Connectivity project was launched on 3rd of April, 2016 took 18 months, the existing distribution transformers which stood at 5,320 were maximized to reach an estimated 314,200 households across the 47 counties, located within 600 metre radius.
The Benefits brought forth by Last Mile Connectivity project have seen the general population (which has been without electricity) being connected to the distribution system, an increase in economic activity (industrial, agricultural, commercial) and social wellbeing (households and social institutions) and the lowering of electricity cost from an initial cost of Sh35,000 to Sh15,000.
Most homes which used to rely on kerosene as a source of light have now have access to electricity after being connected.
Kenya Power says there has been a 46 per cent rise in the number of new customers in the last two years raising the number of those connected to more than 3 million. This has been attainmed mainly because of the drop in the cost of electricity installation to speed up the government’s agenda on the key flagship projects to have at least 70% of Kenyan households connected by 2017 and universal connectivity by 2020, currently being at 35%.