Kenyan industries see end to power crisis

August 29, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – Industries have expressed optimism that the current power rationing program will come to an end in October.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Chairman Vimal Shah told Capital Business that they were counting on the execution of the deal by Britain\’s Aggreko to provide an additional 140 Megawatts ((MW) of emergency power.

"Currently, we have a serious power problem but come October we shall have no more power rationing because there is enough new power coming on board," he enthused pointing also to Mumias Sugar Company\’s contribution of between 24MW and 26 MW to the national grid.

The UK firm is expected to avail 40 MW at its Embakasi site by the end of next month and the remainder is expected to be installed on the same site and in Naivasha by October.

The load shedding program, which started nearly three weeks ago, has hurt many businesses particularly those that are not included in the industrial zones category.

A statement from KAM showed that companies that are based in Kasarani, Ruaraka, Jogoo Road, Likoni Road, Mombasa Road, and Athi River among other areas were losing between 12 and 36 hours per week due to the rationing.

These firms, the association said, have been forced to scale down their operations.

Leading consumer goods manufacturer Haco Industries, which has been classified under the domestic consumer bracket, has said its operating costs have gone up by 30 percent since the power blackout program began.

The Kasarani-based company\’s Supply Chain Director Peter Kangethe told Capital Business that they had to depend on generators to keep their production going.

Other companies such as East African Breweries Limited (EABL) have however opted for a self-imposed rationing program that sees them switch off power between 6pm and 10pm.

The company has also found various ways of addressing their water problems by seeking approval to sink boreholes and putting up more storage tanks to ensure the availability of the commodity, which is key to its business.

While the scarcity of water and electricity in the country is set to impact negatively on the economy, it is also an opportunity for firms to come up with ingenious solutions to these challenges.

On Thursday, energy experts said that various strategies that support the production of renewable energy should be encouraged and adopted to enable the country meet its growing power demand and reduce it\’s over reliance on hydropower.

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