Kenya ranked 5th in electricity rule index

Wanjii power station which was constructed in 1950s.

Kenya slipped two spots in a regional ranking that evaluates the systems that countries have put in place to regulate their energy sectors.

In a new survey published by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Kenya was ranked fifth in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, from number three last year. East Africa’s biggest economy also falls behind its neighbours Uganda and Tanzania in the ranking.

The Electricity Regulatory Index 2020 ranked Uganda as the best out of the 36 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa rated in the survey. It is the third time in a row that Uganda has topped the rankings.

Tanzania was ranked third. Other countries ahead of Kenya are Namibia at position two and Zambia, ranked fourth.

“These countries have well-developed electricity regulatory frameworks, and their regulators can exert the necessary regulatory oversight and authority on the regulated entities and the sector for measurable outcomes,” noted the report on the top five countries.

The slip up by Kenya in the ranking, as well as trailing neighbours, is despite the country having a relatively high electricity access levels than her peers in the region.

The study explains countries with lower access rates can have higher scores as the countries with the more developed power sectors have a myriad of other factors other than the level of regulatory development.

The AfDB report noted that the heavy presence of the State in regulatory bodies had affected the independence of energy regulators across Africa.

By having a say in who sits at the boards of the regulators, governments have can easily manipulate the agenda for the entities, including bending decisions made to fit the day’s political agenda.

In the case of Kenya, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority chair is appointed by the President according to the Energy Act of 2019. About half of the board members are government representatives.

Such a scenario, the report noted, ends up with the State interfering with the operations and independence of the regulators. It recommends the appointment of directors via independent processes.

“The survey showed that in over 90 per cent of the countries sampled, the power to appoint board members and heads of regulatory institutions is vested in the executive to whom they report to. This removes the core of the decision-making independence from the regulators...,” read the report.

It said the commissioners be appointed on fixed non-renewable term to ensure they are not influenced by future employment concerns.  

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