State's stalled cheap electricity project gets Sh27b shot in arm

Kenya power technicians installing a transformer at Ibutuka village in Mbeere North, Embu County. [Murithi Mugo, Standard]

Kenya Power plans to connect 280,473 homes in 32 counties with cheap electricity under the controversial Last Mile Connectivity Project starting in November.

The latest phase of the State and development partners-backed project, which links homes to the national grid under a subsidised arrangement, will be funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Union (EU) at a cost of Sh26.8 billion.

"The government of Kenya has received credit from the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) and a grant from the European Union (EU) towards the cost of the Kenya Power Distribution Last Mile Connectivity Project," said Kenya Power in tender documents.

Kenya Power consequently has invited bids from eligible bidders for the project. The homes to benefit are spread out across the country.

Beneficiary counties include Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Bungoma, Kisumu, Siaya, Busia, Vihiga and Kakamega. Others are Homa Bay, Kisii, Migori, Nyamira, Bomet, Kericho, Laikipia, Nakuru, Nyeri, Embu, Kirinyaga and Tharaka Nithi, Kajiado, Makueni, Kitui, Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta.

"The company has invited bids for turnkey contractors, who will undertake the electrification project in 32 targeted counties at a total cost of Sh 26.8 billion," said Kenya Power. The utility firm said the new round of connections will involve the installation of 940 new transformers, the maximisation of 3,735 existing transformers, and the construction of associated power lines in the identified counties.

The resumption of the project renews hope for thousands of households without electricity after a financing hitch saw it stall. The African Development Bank (AfDB), which bankrolled the plan in the past, had said the project was grappling with a budget deficit, leading to delays in its continuation.

At the time, the project saw consumers get connected to the grid at a subsidised rate of Sh15,000, depending on their proximity to power lines and transformers, down from Sh35,000. Beneficiaries were strictly homes located within 600 metres of a transformer.

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