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Every day's a Sunday as Kenya's power demand drops

By Reuters | May 27th 2020

Demand for electricity has dropped by eight per cent in Kenya, power generating company KenGen said a week ago.

The company said demand for its electricity had dropped by about 8 per cent due to restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, with Sunday usage levels seen throughout the week.

KenGen, which is 70 per cent owned by the government, said the situation in East Africa’s richest economy mirrored the rest of the world as industries and other businesses cut down their activities in response to the pandemic.

“We are experiencing ‘prolonged Sundays’... when typically, consumption goes down due to low demand ... We have almost the same demand for power as on Sundays, and all through the week,” CEO Rebecca Miano said in an emailed response to Reuters questions.

Miano did not say how the drop in demand would affect earnings or when KenGen expected demand to recover.

Kenya, which has reported over 1000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 50 deaths, has suspended commercial flights in and out of the country, banned public gatherings and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew since March.

It has also halted movement in and out of five regions most affected by the virus, including the capital Nairobi.

KenGen has installed capacity of 1,805.31 megawatts (MW), with 85 per cent coming from hydroelectric, geothermal and wind power plants. The country’s total installed electricity capacity was 2,818.9 MW at the end of 2019.

The government expects the economy to expand by 3 per cent this year, down from a pre-pandemic forecast of more than 6 per cent.

KenGen has been trying to create new revenue streams by providing consultation services for countries around the region for their geothermal power development plans.

Last year, it also secured a Sh7.6 billion ($71 million) drilling contract with state-run Ethiopian Electric Power, and another with independent Ethiopia power producer Tulu Moye worth 5.8 billion shillings.

“Besides Ethiopia, KenGen has been offering commercial geothermal drilling and consultancy services to Djibouti, Comoros and Rwanda,” Miano said.

“The company is also considering geothermal infrastructure tenders in Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.”

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