NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – As part of its ambitious plan to connect 40 percent of Kenyans to electricity by 2020, Kenya Power has signed distribution contracts worth Sh1.13 billion.
Kenya Power Managing Director Joseph Njoroge said the funds that derive from an Sh8.5 billion World Bank loan will establish sub-stations in satellite areas of Nairobi, Western Kenya and the Mount Kenya region.
“Prior to 2003 the power sector, just like other sectors of the economy, suffered from years of lack of new investments which resulted in the weakening and ageing of the electricity distribution infrastructure,” he said.
Indian firm KEC International will design and construct various sub-stations and transformers in Nairobi’s outpost areas, Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western provinces at a total cost of Sh730 million.
Siemens Limited of India will construct sub-stations in Gatundu, Juja, Kangema, Tala and Mwea at a cost of Sh403 million.
In response to a plethora of vandalism cases in the country, Njoroge said Kenya Power petitioned the government to classify vandalism as an economic sabotage where culprits are sentenced to life imprisonment.
“One of our main challenges and major cause of our power interruption accounting for 43 percent is vandalism and theft of our equipment. The Attorney General has already taken a Bill to Parliament to categorise vandalism as economic sabotage,” he said.
The economy was losing over Sh3 billion due to power interruptions, he said.
Njoroge said he is expecting a more subdued allocation for the energy sector in the 2012-2013 budget citing mounting financial pressures from the upcoming elections and security issues.
“I don’t want to appear like I expect so much from the budget. However, the government has been very committed to energy in terms of creating an enabling environment for industries and improving the economic development of the country,” he said.
The Treasury has earmarked Sh1 billion for the Ministry of Energy to increase funding for the rural electrification programme, in the next financial year’s budget.
Infrastructure alone is expected to garner 35 percent of the total allocations.
Under Vision 2030 Kenya Power is expected to provide access to electricity to at least 50 percent of Kenya by 2030, which Njoroge has confidently said will reach 70 or 80 percent by that time.