Kenya has been ranked among the top 20 countries with the greatest jump in electricity connection across the world attributable to an integrated approach that brings together grid, mini grid and on-grid solar access to power.
However, the country also ranks among the top 20 countries with greatest number of people lacking access to clean fuel and technologies for cooking.
Other Sub-Saharan countries in this energy poor pool are neighbors Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Ethiopia as well as Nigeria, Ghana in West Africa to name but a few.
According to Energy Progress report 2021, in the ten years to 2019, Kenya posted annual electrification growth rate of 5.6 per cent, which was the largest among the 20 nations with the biggest electricity access gap.
“Regional disparities continue to persist, and the access deficit is particularly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for three-quarters of the global deficit,” noted the report released by International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization.
Rolled out in 2014, Kenya’s last mile connectivity programme where thousands of homes and public infrastructure such as schools have been hooked to the main electricity has contributed a great deal to this feat.
Further, off-grid initiatives such as solar power investments by firms and individuals as well and biogas plants have pushed up the number of Kenyans with access to electricity, the report notes.
Globally, the number of people without access to electricity declined to 759 million in 2019 from 1.2 billion in 2010. The number of people connected to mini grids has more than doubled between 2010 and 2019, growing to 11 from five million people.
However, under current and planned policies and further affected by the COVID-19 crisis, an estimated 660 million people would still lack access in 2030, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, the report notes.
“Kenya’s recent efforts at last mile electrification have not yet resulted in any real increase in consumption of electricity beyond basic services, putting to question the viability of costly grid connections,” says the survey.
Over the years, however, Kenya’s access to power has been guided simply providing electricity to consumers while overlooking the need to stimulate demand for productive uses of the energy.
The country’s utility, Kenya Power, has admitted to the gap in productive usage of electricity, saying that majority of its rural consumers use about six units a month- equivalent of Kes 100.45, which is too little for the company to book profits.