- AfDB sponsored study showed poor electricity utilization in Kenya
An impact assessment of Phase 1 of the “Last Mile Connectivity Project” in Kenya has established a need for the African Development Bank supported initiative to encourage the productive use of electricity by beneficiaries, in addition to basic household consumption.
The study — Impact Evaluation of the AfDB-Supported Kenya Last Mile Connectivity Project, Phase 1 revealed that “2 to 3 years after connecting households to the grid through the project, electricity consumption by beneficiaries has remained low, with beneficiaries using the electricity just to light up their houses and charge their phones.
The assessment, conducted by the bank’s Independent Development Evaluation unit (IDEV), recommended therefore that the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), the implementing agency, should find ways to “stimulate” additional demand for electricity by households and businesses in rural areas.
The study which was conducted in six counties: Baringo, Kakamega, Kericho, Kitui, Nakuru and Taita Taveta, was financed by the African Development Bank.
Presenting the report at a roundtable attended by Development Partners, Government officials and energy sector stakeholders in Nairobi on April 4th, Ustace Ezor, IDEV’s Evaluation Officer, noted that contrary to initial predictions, there was a limited increase in the productive use of electricity hence the recommendation of programs that connects electricity access with income-generating activities such as irrigation services and promoting small businesses.
Responding to the findings, Eng. Anthony Musyoka, Senior Manager, Transmission System Planning, at the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO), said communities must be sensitized on the opportunities to draw more benefits from electricity connection. “There was no sensitization of communities. They need to be sensitized to make them aware that electricity can be used to create wealth, not only for lighting.”
Other points raised included making electricity more affordable and reliable, with the report stating that “a high cost of electricity relative to the household income of beneficiaries undermines access and productive use of electricity”
According to Eng. Joseph Oketch, Director of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, the high cost of the commodity was determined by several factors. “This has more to do with the high cost of generation, transmission cost as well as distribution and supply cost. All these issues need to be addressed holistically,” he added.
The report also highlighted notable positive impacts of the project; an 83% increase in access to electricity for lighting through the national grid.
It stated that the probability of children studying at night increased by 45%, and the grade for secondary school students increased by 34% in beneficiary households. “This speaks to the improved capacity and quality of electricity, considering that most of the counties are now served by the grid,” Eng. Musyoka said.
One significant impact of Phase 1 of the LMCP according to Alemayehu Wubeshet Zegeye, East Africa Regional Energy Sector Manager at the African Development Bank, was the transformation of Kenya into a model for other countries in the region. “The model used in Kenya was unique and ramped up the connection in very few years. The program was designed to speed up connection for low-income earners by subsidizing the connection charge upfront,” he explained.
“With the connection charges reduced from Ksh. 35,000 to Ksh 15,000 (about $269 to $115) payable in 3-year installments, more rural households were encouraged to apply for connection to the grid.”
The LMCP project is a flagship mass electrification program launched by the Government of Kenya to increase access to electricity for low-income groups in rural and peri-urban areas by connecting them to the national grid.
The country intends to connect 17 million households to the national grid by 2030, with nine million being connected currently. Funding from the African Development Bank has seen the Kenya LMCP project connect about 530,000 households so far across 47 counties.