NAIROBI, June 24 – President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday urged African countries to pool their resources in order to counter the rising global energy costs.,
Addressing the 16th Congress of the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa (UPDEA) in Nairobi, President Kibaki called on African experts to take the lead in tackling challenges afflicting the continent, and inject good governance in national power sectors.
“The benefits of regional power integration need no emphasising. After all, each country has its own unique strengths with regard to power generation potential.”
He told the UPDEA Congress that the development of the energy sector was crucial for the overall health of the African economy.
“The International Energy Agency forecasts that about 584 million Africans will be without electricity by the year 2030. This situation is untenable, and is a wake-up call to the leadership of the continent to be more aggressive and innovative when it comes to rural electrification.”
Last week, Kenya’s Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi warned of an imminent power crisis amid increased demand for the commodity and gaping supply challenges.
However, the President noted that the coalition Government would initiate measures aimed at combating the soaring prices and the unpredictable energy sources in the country.
He said his government has, through the Energy Act (2006), initiated comprehensive reforms in the energy sector to accelerate electrification including the establishment of a Rural Electrification Authority (REA) to spearhead and fast-track electricity access to rural areas.
Meanwhile two new companies, one for geothermal development and another for power transmission development, are being set up to complete the critical energy sector reforms as articulated in Kenya’s policy paper, Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2004.
These efforts are seen as reinforcement, exercised by the Government to instil good governance within institutions and agencies through performance contracting, and are intended to improve productivity by rewarding good performance and discouraging poor work.
The demand for power in the country has continued to grow with the gradual expansion of the economy and experts say it is projected to rise exponentially.
The Head of State also announced long and short term plans by his government to meet the increased demand for power.
The Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) is expected to increase energy production by 2,000 Mega Watts over the next ten years.
About 85 percent of this new capacity is planned to come from renewable sources such as Geothermal, which are friendly to the environment.
Similarly, the national transmitter and distributor, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, is investing more in transmission and distribution infrastructure to boost its power output.
“I am glad to note that the steps we have taken in the last few years have resulted in tremendous improvements in electricity connectivity across the country,” President Kibaki said.
Similarly, Minister Murungi, speaking at the conference, called for increased public and private sector partnership in the energy sector to counter the looming power crisis facing the African continent.
He said collaborative measures would assist the power sector to pool resources.
“We can achieve even greater successes through collaborative arrangements with our brothers and sisters from the rest of the continent. This occasion offers an opportunity to see how Africa can harness her resources and produce enough power to effectively drive our growing economies.”