Kenya Power is eyeing a shipment of over 300,000 electricity meters early next year to resume stalled power connections around the country.
The lack of meters could derail the new government’s plan to ramp up electricity supply as part of President William Ruto’s new administration’s campaign manifesto to connect households and businesses to power.
The electricity distributor says an acute shortage of the gadgets due to supply hitches had stalled new connections around the country, fomenting a crisis but the planned imports will ease the backlog.
Kenya Power acting Chief Executive Geoffrey Muli attributed the supply hitches to delays caused by long-winded court cases and pending approval of procurement plans.
The power firm had been embroiled in a dispute with local manufacturers of the gadgets in long drawn-out legal fights before the procurement watchdog that delayed procurement leading to the biting shortage.
The local players have been demanding representation in the distribution of the tenders awards alleging discrimination. “This year we have had a lot of challenges with meters … we have now been able to issue orders for the meters to come and the manufacturing has begun,” said Mr Muli.
“We expect late January or early February, the first consignment to be with us so that we can be able to relieve this pain that Kenyans are having of having to wait for connection due to lack of meters,” he added.
Mr Muli did not provide the name of the importing firms. A spot check by The Standard showed thousands of households in areas such as Naivasha in Nakuru County are in limbo over the delayed connections.
“We are expecting around 340,000 both single phase and three phase and smart meters. It will clear the backlog and caution us in the interim as we get into the next procurement cycle,” said Mr Muli.
Kenya Power in March announced it would restrict the meters tender to a few firms according to its internal documents. “The Kenya Power & Lighting Company PLC intends to procure (Single phase, three phase postpaid and prepaid large power and ordinary smart meters) through Restricted Tender to few-known suppliers,” said Kenya Power. “The tender (number KP1/9A.3/RT/05/21-22) shall be published on Monday 14.03.2022 to a limited number of bidders.”
Kenya Power connected over 600,000 customers in the year to June 2021. “To grow sales, the company connected 641,237 new customers to the electricity grid, raising the total number of customers to 8,919,440,” said Kenya Power earlier.
“This sales growth strategy was supported by an intensive loss reduction campaign to tackle insidious electricity theft. In addition, the scaling up of the smart metering project deterred meter tampering thereby increasing billed electricity units.”
Kenya Power is betting on smart meters to eliminate continued energy theft, reduce increasing electricity demand, lower operating costs and protect revenue.