Kenya government unveils plan to assess energy consumption and demand

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Government Wednesday appeared to own up to the criticism that its ambitious plan to add another 5000MW of power to the national grid by 2016 could leave the country with more electricity than it needs.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) as well as other independent power producers are currently undertaking initiatives to raise the country's installed capacity to slightly over 6,700 MW by 2016 from the current 1,664MW.

Critics feel this is too much more energy than the country will need, raising fear that most of the new power will go to waste bearing in mind that some of the electricity currently being generated ends up as waste especially at night when the demand is not high.

The Government seems to have woken up to the possibility of such a bad scenario occurring and has now started a one-month survey to determine the exact amount of electricity demand that the country has before more is generated. This way, said Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir, the country will ensure the energy it generates is at same level with demand.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we cannot be able to meet the demand envisioned," the CS told reporters yesterday during the launch of a web-based portal targeting large power consumers like manufacturers.

Through the portal, manufacturers will be able to advise Kenya Power in advance on the amount of new or additional power they need to either expand their existing production capacity or start new factories.

The Government is of the view that the initiative will in addition help in cutting the time it takes to connect new large power consumers after application. It is estimated that it takes up to 164 days to get an electricity connection for large manufacturers upon application while the ideal situation should be 16 days.

Kenya Power has, however, slashed this period to 56 days, with the target to have this done in 30 days for the big customers by the end of the year.


With the pre-determined demand established, it will enable the power distributor to, for instance, order generators in time bearing in mind that this sometimes takes nine month between the time of order and delivery.

"The project is important to ensure that the power generated does not go to waste," said Betty Maina, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (Kam) chief executive officer. Kam represents over 9,000 manufacturers who use up to 60 per cent of the energy generated in the country.

Kam admits that the current manufacturing base of the country cannot be able to take up all the new electricity expected to come on board. "We need new industries in the country to ensure the 5000MW of energy are utilised," she added.

Chirchir said the additional power should help to cut the cost of electricity by more than 30 per cent, something that will boost the country's competitive edge.

The Cabinet Secretary regretted that most of the cement makers in the country currently have to import their clinker from outside because of the prohibitive energy costs here.