Senators ask Kenya Power to streamline contracts with meter manufacturers

Energy Committee Senators at the Magnate Ventures factory. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Senate Energy has asked the Kenya Power and Lighting Company(KPLC) to come up with long-term contractual framework with electricity meter producers to guarantee them they get business for their products with the country currently having a shortage of 450,000 meters.

The Committee Chairman Wahome Wamatinga who led members on a fact-finding mission to the premises of four smart electricity metre companies in Nairobi said that this will give the companies an assurance of their products being acquired since some of them have been idle for the last two years.

The Senate Energy Committee members visited Magnate Ventures Metres plant, Yocean Group Limited, Smart Meters Company and Inhemeter Africa Company and raised concerns that Kenyans have been raising complaints over the lack of electricity meters yet there are companies ready to produce them.

“We are asking the Kenya Power and Lighting Company to come up with a clear contractual agreement with electricity metre producers in the country so that the producers can be assured of business for their products since the state agency is their only customer,” said Wamatinga.

Smart Ventures Limited Chief Executive Officer Stanley Kinyanjui told the Senators that despite his company having the capacity to produce 4,000 smart meters per day the last time they supplied to KPLC was in 2021 and that they were ready to produce enough meters for the country.

Kinyanjui told the committee members that his company is a locally owned enterprise that smart metres acquisition is done through a tender system with KPLC and that with a growing demand for housing in the country, they were ready to ensure a constant supply given a chance.

The Smart Ventures CEO told the committee that he had spent Sh350 million to set up the factory based in the industrial area in Nairobi and has employed 100 people and that they only require from the state agency that their products will be bought and that way there will be no shortfall in the country.

“We call on the government to support local companies like Smart Ventures which have the capacity of making enough smart electricity metres for use in the country that is why we are asking the Senate Energy Committee to engage with KPLC to come up with a contractual framework,” said Kinyanjui.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna said the visit demonstrated that the smart meters they had were made locally and there was no need to import ready-made metres since there were companies capable of making them.

Sifuna said that during their tour they had established that it was possible to make the Smart Metres locally to create jobs for the youths.

“KPLC should give local companies a priority in the manufacture of smart meters since we have visited Smart Ventures Limited and we have been taken through the processes of making them unlike this other foreign companies which appear only to be warehouses for imported products from their home country,” said Sifuna.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said that following their fact-finding mission they had established that most Smart Meter Companies in the country which are mostly foreign-owned do not manufacture the product locally but assemble it here and label it as made in Kenya.

Khalwale said that Kenyans have been complaining over the lack of electricity meters yet there are companies capable of addressing the shortfall if they are given the necessary support and that KPLC should consider giving certified companies at least a three-year contract to guarantee them business.

“KPLC should urgently come up with measures to ensure that we do not have a deficit of smart electricity metres in the country since the Senate Energy Committee has established that gaps in the procurement process have led to shortage yet more Kenyans need electricity in the homes,” said Khalwale.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator William Kisang asked KPLC to come up with an electricity waste management plan since in 20 years there will be a huge number of metres that will require disposal after serving their shelf life of 15 years.

The Senate Energy Committee members noted that there was a need for a regional market for smart meters since the companies in the country have the potential to produce enough for local use and more that can be supplied to neighbouring countries.