KAM wants proper power planning

July 26, 2011
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Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Betty Kaima/ File
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) is calling on the government to fast track the current and proposed energy development projects in order to adequately meet the rising energy demand in the country.

KAM Chief Executive Officer Betty Maina argued that the country cannot continue to depend on emergency power to meet the demand which is now estimated to be growing at 12 percent per annum.

“The economy is growing and so is demand and you must have a program of supply to meet that. You cannot rely on diesel generated power to grow an economy. That is going to be expensive!” she warned.

She proposed that it’s time the government adopted a holistic approach that can help identify the challenges facing the sector and the solutions that can be implemented to deliver stable and reliable energy supply in the country.

“If the shortfall is the absence of investments, then we need to figure out why. If the shortfall is because of the long procurement processes and challenges that affect planning, then we need to review all these. We can’t have these challenges compromising energy security,” Ms Maina opined.

The country’s generator KenGen should also strive to enhance its capacity for supply of emergency power instead of over-relying on external suppliers, she reckoned.

Reacting to Monday’s announcement that Kenya Power will begin rolling out a power rationing plan that will mostly affect industries, the CEO expressed manufacturers’ concern that this action indicated that the supply shortage was more severe than the utility company was letting on.

The rationing, which Kenya Power prefer to call a ‘power supply management program’ will be implemented from Wednesday on a rotational basis from 6.30 pm to 9.30pm mostly in Nairobi, Western Province and Mt Kenya region.

Given that evening peak demand is 1190 MW, KAM pointed out that this could imply that the country has a cumulative shortage of 200 Megawatts when compared to the total capacity.

This, Ms Maina emphasised could threaten the economy, which has been working with demand levels of eight percent per annum, thus the need to urgently address the underlying issues.

“We have seen increased demand in the country and region and most industries have been operating at nearly full capacity. We should not let infrastructure constrain it. We cannot choke growth at this point,” she stressed.

While the private sector is willing to play its part to alleviate this problem, it would need incentives such as those that enable them to shift their load to off-peak time.

The Energy Regulatory Commission has however made known its intention to have such a tariff in the next (electricity tariff) review.

Despite this setback however, the manufacturers who are obviously concerned about the impact that the blackouts will have on their production costs, have ruled out an increment on manufactured goods.

Such a move would render them uncompetitive and would only be implemented as a last resort.

“Nobody raises prices unnecessarily because you are not the only player in the local regional or international market. You can’t use the price mechanism for coping,” she concluded and at the same time hoping that her members have prepared themselves and implemented adequate emergency measures.

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