Increasing electricity cost will hurt Kenyans further

Kenya Power has submitted proposals for tariff increases to the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA). Accordingly, these proposals will be subjected to public participation between January 31 and February 8, 2023 before EPRA makes its decision.

In the proposed changes, Kenya Power seeks to lower the domestic lifeline tariff limit from 100 units to 30 units, above which the consumer moves to a more expensive tariff. Even as the lifeline limit is lowered, Kenya Power also proposes to increase the domestic lifeline tariff from Sh7.70 to Sh14 per unit, not inclusive of taxes and levies that currently amount to about Sh12.

This increase will push the cost per unit to Sh26, up from Sh20. The bottom line is that this will adversely affect low income earners who the tariff supposedly targets to cushion.

Following the Kenya Kwanza government's removal of the 15 per cent subsidy in December last year, the cost of power, as with many other household essentials, shot up exponentially. In January 2022, the Jubilee administration introduced fuel, maize and other subsidies that, truth be told, went a long way in cushioning low income earners against the devastating effects occasioned by Covid-19.

The high cost of power, unfortunately, is one of the causes of the spiraling cost of living, and discourages investors by increasing the cost of production. As a country, we cannot continually complain of unemployment and joblessness when our own policies drive prospective employers away.

The need for government to find ways to tame the cost of power, including by reducing the taxes charged, cannot be gainsaid. Consumers are already carrying the burden of paying independent power producers through the fuel cost charge, which is taking a huge chunk of the bill, and higher forex levies due to weakening of the shilling. It is disingenuous to talk about lowering the cost of living while the cost of power is going through the roof.

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