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The monkey business at Kenya Power

COMMENTARY
By Yvonne Okwara | August 8th 2016

My Take is about the day Kenya lived up to the derogatory term Dark Continent. Saturday morning, Kenyans woke up in darkness. The country had been plunged into a 5 hour national blackout. Kenyans were not surprised. This was the second in just 2 months.

At least in this case, the cause was a more, shall I say, honourable one: Technical hitch in transmission from Olkaria.

The last one was laughable and attracted international attention. It was a rogue monkey that caused a trip in the system but lived to tell the tale. The memes on social media were quite funny. But, what wasn’t funny was the number of businesses that incurred losses; both big and small.

Manufacturers have long complained of the high cost of power and frequent outages. For a country that hopes to industrialise fully by 2030, we fail to prioritise one of the most important services needed - Power! 

This is not just about the economy. It is also a security threat. Imagine what power we give to those that may have evil intent. A whole country in darkness for hours? A terrorist now knows that all it takes to bring the country to its knees is a rogue monkey. What can’t a human do? 

Add to this the frequent so called scheduled power outages from 9am to 5pm supposedly for maintenance. How often do Kenya Power lines require maintenance? And if they require maintenance so often, shouldn’t we just replace them altogether? These frequent outages are always accompanied by glib responses such as "It was a technical hitch" and " We are doing everything possible to restore power as soon as possible" 

Kenya Power is a state owned parastatal that receives our taxes as well as the bills paid for services provided that sometimes lack lustre. There is a threshold to just how much bad service Kenyans can take. Despite all this, Kenya Power has announced its intention to be an internet service provider. Perhaps that may be helpful so we can all tweet to alert them of power outages in our homes.

That’s my take - @YvonneOkwara

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