Kenyans slow down on power consumption
By Macharia Kamau | May 16th 2020
Consumption of electricity declined last month as local industries slowed down activities following the containment measures issued by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus.
New data by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) shows that power usage declined 13 per cent last month compared to consumption in March.
Last month, Kenyans consumed 848.6 million units of power (Kilowatt-hours – kWh), a drastic reduction when compared to the 978.1 million units they consumed in March.
It is also in comparison to the average monthly consumption in 2019, which stood at 950 million kWh per month.
Shortly after confirming the first positive coronavirus case in the country on March 12, the government announced measures aimed at curbing its spread.
These have largely slowed down power consumption owing to strain the measure had on industries. This also saw industries operate within certain timelines.
Among the measures included dawn to dusk curfew, social distancing, and closure of establishments such as restaurants while encouraging employers to facilitate their employees to work from home.
Other measures that have followed, all of which have played part in reducing power consumption include the cessation of movement in some areas including the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, and Mandera counties.
Earlier this month, the government locked down Nairobi’s Eastleigh and Mombasa’s Old Town.
While the measures may have seen more people stay at home and hence increasing domestic power usage, it is the industrial customers that account for the larger proportion of the consumed power.
Covid-19 is also expected to substantially dent Kenya’s economy with the National Treasury expecting a growth of 2.5 per cent this year, down from 5.4 per cent in 2019.
This year’s growth projection is a revision from an earlier three per cent, and depending on how the pandemic unfolds in coming months, it could be revised further downwards.
At the start of the year, bullish Treasury had expected the economy to grow 6.2 per cent in the 2020/21 financial year.
The International Monetary Fund projected growth of one per cent for the Kenyan economy. These projections might come down further on the reality that there is no quick fix to the pandemic.
EPRA has also announced a reduction in the cost of electricity. The regulator put the Fuel Cost Charge at Sh2.40 per unit for power consumed in May compared to Sh2.50 in April.
This follows sustained rains, limiting the use of thermal power generators.
Low crude oil prices have also reduced the cost incurred when the generators, which is inevitable as some areas in the country are yet to be hooked to the grid and have to rely on power from the heavy fuel plants.
“All prices for electrical energy… will be liable to plus 240 Kenya cents per kWh for all meter readings to be taken in May 2020,” said EPRA in a notice yesterday.
The regulator also reduced the foreign exchange adjustment fee to 14 cents from 23 cents - the levy, which shields the power industry against currency fluctuations when servicing foreign debt.
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