, MOMBASA, Kenya, Jan 16 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday evening launched a Sh7.6 billion street lighting project with an assurance that it will be extended to all major towns in the 47 counties.
Speaking during the launch of the national public lighting project at Makadara grounds in Mombasa, President Kenyatta disclosed that 24,485 lights have been installed in various counties at a cost of Sh2.5 billion.
“Overall, we will be extending this project to cover 52 towns and trading centres in all the 47 counties at Sh7.6 billion, which my government is prepared to make available,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State said implementation of the project, a priority for the Jubilee Government, will boost service provision and create employment.
He noted that the government has made progress in lowering the cost of electricity, citing this month’s reduction of fuel cost by Sh2.31 per kilowatt-hour down from Sh2.51 the previous month.
Recalling that in July 2014 the fuel cost was Sh7.22, he said the reduction brings down the cost by 68 percent.
“The reduction in fuel cost has led to a corresponding decline in retail electricity prices by 31pc, 24pc, and 27pc for Lifeline, Domestic and Industrial tariffs, respectively,” the President said.
He added: “This, by any means, is not the end of the story; we commit to keep the momentum, to see that these tariffs are maintained at affordable levels so that the country remains competitive.”
President Kenyatta called for closer collaboration between the National Government, county governments and Kenya Power to ensure the project is accomplished by February next year.
He disclosed that the project will be rolled out in all major trading centres, as well as in other strategic public areas across the country to facilitate a 24-hour economy by enhancing security.
“My government promised to provide adequate power at affordable tariff, and ensure all Kenyans have access to electric power. I am happy to say we have made significant strides in achieving this objective,” he said.
The President said already a programme to increase power generation is on-going and has added 615.5 mega watts to the national grid since March 2013. The additional power pushes the total power on the national grid to 2,282 mega watts.
“We are investing heavily in power generation because it is a critical element in firing our industrial expansion and, indeed, in improving the welfare of our people,” the President said.
He challenged manufacturers to translate the reduction in production cost to lower product prices for consumers.
The government has taken one of its boldest steps and has committed to attain universal electricity connectivity by 2020.
“The growth in connectivity has been an encouraging story, growing from a customer base of 2.3 million customers in March 2013, to the present day 4.2 million customers, representing a connectivity rate of 52pc currently,” the President said.
He said by doubling the number of connected customers, the government has achieved in two years what had been achieved in 90 years.
But the President urged the Ministry of Energy and all key players in the sector not to bask in the glory of the achievement.
“To raise connectivity to 70pc by 2017, and reaching universal access by 2020, is a monumental task requiring us to remain focused,” he said.
He emphasized that access to affordable power is a basic right for every Kenyan and urged Kenya Power to hasten the implementation of the “Last Mile Connectivity project” that will increase electricity access to rural and peri-urban areas.
To ease the financial burden on county governments, President Kenyatta said the national government has drastically reduced the tariff for street lighting from Sh11.25 to Sh4.35 per kilowatt-hour.
Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter assured that all primary schools will have been connected to electricity by the end of this month.