On 11 January, many areas of the country found themselves without electricity. In a statement, the state-owned company that manages electricity distribution, the Kenya Power and Light Company (KPLC), said there was a problem with the power line connecting the capital to a hydroelectric dam in the centre of the country, also due to vandalism.
However, this is not the first time that there have been problems with electricity distribution in the country. This is already the third blackout in the last four years, and it comes in the week that the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) was moving to make the electricity distribution companies pay consumers for the various damages that followed the power outage, and compensate workers who suffered an economic loss from the interruption of their service.
In addition to the various blackouts, the Kenyan company is accused of numerous inefficiencies, such as an unbelievably slow restoration of services, very high billing costs or electricity connections that take too long. Added to this is the state of the company’s coffers, which has long been forced into debt operations, held by the IDA (international development agency), the China Exim Bank and the Japan Development Bank. All this with the state acting as guarantor.
Partly because of this chaotic situation, some parts of the country are looking with great interest at renewables, particularly solar energy. In particular, ‘big energy consumers’ such as Alp, a large African logistics company; Mombasa airport and Icipe, the institute for research into insects and their ecology, have commissioned solar panel units. Even KPLC has started to move in the direction of renewables, it is forced to if it does not want to end up out of business.