BY JACKSON OKOTH
Treasury has signed Sh5.95 billion worth of loans and grants to allow poor citizens access electricity and improve their living standards.
Some Sh5.4 billion will be used to scale up access to electricity through scaling up of the Stima loan revolving fund that was set up to enable many low-income households get connections to the national grid and also make energy – saving bulbs accessible to them.
The social fund for development got some Sh55 million that will be used to finance projects in the social sector enabling those in the rural and urban areas participate fully in development.
“Our country is faced with insufficient energy supply occasioned by increased demand on supply due to on-going development projects and household needs. It has also been exploiting renewable energy sources, such as geothermal and wind power, which the French Government has passionately supported over the years,” said Finance Minister Njeru Githae.
Out of the Sh66 billion committed by bilateral partners in 2011/2012 budget, the French Government gave out Sh18.8 billion, almost three times the Sh6.4 billion in 2010/2011 financial year.
“Figures indicate that only 20-30 per cent of the population has access to electricity although this figure drops as one moves to the rural areas,” said Etinne de Poncins, French Ambassador to Kenya.
Although the number of those being connected to electricity has been impressive, many in the rural areas still have no access.
Some of the impediments include the fact that most low-income households here cannot afford to be connected, cost of electricity is still high or that the grid is not available at all.
With the aim of enhancing social equity and poverty reduction, the Government has rolled out free primary education to address illiteracy and empower Kenyans. The state has also undertaken reforms in the water, sanitation and health sectors.
To support the electricity programme funded under the French assistance, the European Union is also giving out a five million Euro subsidy from its energy facility.