We have extensive energy potential to meet rising need

Kenya has been on an upward growth trajectory for close to two decades now. The economy has been resilient, placing it among some of the largest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. This growth has brought with it increased demand for electricity, requiring steady and secure energy supply.

In emerging economies such as Kenya, electricity consumption has been found to have positive impact on economic growth, in the process boosting quality of life for many. Additionally, electricity has opened up different parts of the country to new economic activities, spurred socio-economic development and improved the standards of living. An analysis of electricity demand in the country demonstrates an annual average increase of six percent. This increase has been driven by customer connectivity, demography and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2008, the demand stood at 1,044MW, rising to 1,802MW in 2018.

Currently, there are 6.2 million households connected to electricity with the government working towards universal access for all by 2020.

Immediate benefits have come through increased security of persons and property, improved socio-economic activities for small businesses through extended trading hours. Today, many households use electricity for lighting and powering other electronic appliances. So far, power generation has enabled the Government to increase electricity connectivity to households and also for industrial use across the country. The same has led to reduction in cost of power production and distribution resulting to competitive edge in manufacturing of products as well as stable, adequate and reliable power across Kenya.

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This has contributed towards increased job opportunities. The energy sector has been one of the largest beneficiaries of the Government’s investment with projects cutting across power generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and geothermal steam exploration, among others. These investments are geared towards supporting the Big Four agenda which focuses on manufacturing, food security, universal healthcare and affordable housing.

Kenya’s prospects

Kenya’s energy generation mix includes hydro, geothermal, thermal, solar and wind. Currently, the country requires diverse energy resources. The good news is that we have made considerable progress in development of green energy sources.

Looking at our prospects in geothermal energy, the potential along Rift Valley is estimated at 10,000MW and is currently being harnessed in Olkaria, Menegai and Eburru fields. In the medium and long term, plans are underway to develop new geothermal reservoirs such as Suswa, Longonot, Akiira and Baringo Silali. So far Kenya has geothermal installed capacity of 683MW.

Kenya also has immense potential in hydropower, estimated between 3,000MW and 6,000MW. More than 819MW has been exploited in large installations owned by Kenya Electricity Generation Company PLC (KenGen). Presently, the existing hydropower plants contribute about 30 percent of the country’s annual electricity generation. Hydropower potential is found in five geographical regions namely Lake Victoria basin (329MW), Rift Valley basin (305MW), Athi River Basin (60MW) and Tana River basin (790MW).

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Kenya’s interest in wind power has been growing progressively. Already, KenGen has a 25MW power plant in Ngong comprising 30 850Kw turbines. Some of the country’s best wind sites are found in Marsabit, Samburu, Laikipia, Meru, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Kajiado counties. Other areas include Lamu, offshore Malindi, Loitokitok and Narok plateau. According to the Least Cost Power Development Plan (LCPDP)-2017-2037, Kenya has close to 90,000 square kilometres with exceptional wind speeds of 6m/s and above.

So far, Kenya’s largest wind power farm, which contributes 300MW of clean energy, is located in Loiyangalani in Marsabit County.  

Kenya is also endowed with huge solar resources, placing it among the highest in Sub-saharan Africa. Currently, in Garissa County, Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has built a 54.6MW solar power plant.

KenGen, the country’s leading energy producer is keen on growing power supply from these and other energy sources to support demand, achieve lower cost of electricity and increase green energy sources.

So far, considerable progress has been made in diversifying and developing the country’s energy sources in line with the LCPDP (2017-2037).

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- The writer is the Managing Director and CEO of KenGen

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KenyaSub-Saharan AfricaGDPGovernmentLCPDP