Kenya: The African Development Bank (AfDB) has committed to give Kenya a $131.76 million (Sh11.9b) loan to fund a project aimed at improving access to electricity among poor populations in Kenya’s rural areas.
The loan will see more than 1.57 million more consumers in low-income areas connected to electricity.
The Last Mile Connectivity Project, whose implementation will target residents within a 600-metre radius of the existing 35,000 distribution transformers spread across the country, will cover the entire country with selected transformers in 47 counties.
The exercise has the potential of connecting 314,200 households, which translates into providing electricity access to approximately 1,571,000 people. Only a third of Kenya’s more than 40 million people are connected to the grid, and poor access to electricity as well as erratic supplies are seen as major constraints on economic growth.
The Government plans to add 5,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity to the existing 1,664 MW by 2017 in a country that relies heavily on geothermal and hydro-electric power.
“The Last Mile Connectivity Project will increase electricity access in Kenya and improve the quality of life of the residents and promote businesses, hence contributing to economic growth in Kenya,” AfDB Regional Director for the East Africa Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu said in a statement.
He said over the past five years, the regional development bank has approved a total of $712 million of financing for projects in the energy sector for generation, transmission, distribution systems, rural electrification and regional power interconnections.
“The Last Mile Connectivity project will bring the total investments in the energy sector to approximately $844 million,” he stated.
Mr Negatu observed that low level access to electricity is impeding economic development and provision of basic social services in the region including Kenya. The rural areas consume biomass, including fuel-wood for cooking and lighting consequently, degrading forests leading to deforestation.
“The project will enable reduction of deforestation and increase access to modern energy services and reliable supply, which is in line with the Bank’s Energy sector policy (2012) encouraging the transition to green growth path,” added Negatu. The bank’s support to the electricity sector is in line with its 2014-2018 Country Strategy.