Kenya Power eyes slums electricity project

Oct 19, 2011 12:00 AM

Kenya Power has spread the rural electrification project to informal settlements in the Mt Kenya region as it races to increase the number of domestic connections.
The firm targets to connect 67,000 households in slums countrywide.

The power distributor expects reimbursement of $ 15 mm (Sh 1.5 bn) from the World Bank and the Global Partnership Output Based Aid (GPOBA) for its investment in slums. However, this is pegged to the number of connections the company will make in these areas.
"The World Bank and GPOBA have pledged to reimburse a total of $ 225 (Sh 22,351) for every customer connected," said the Kenya Power distribution manager, Mr Harun Mwangi, who is also in charge of the slum electrification project. The World Bank will provide $ 150 (Sh 14,901) while GPOBA give $ 75 (Sh 7,450) for every connected customer.

Kenya Power would connect slum dwellers to the national grid at a subsidised rate of Sh 1,760 for domestic use and Sh 2,740 for commercial use down from Sh 35,000 paid for regular connections. According to Mr Mwangi, the project, which has also been initiated in Nairobi's Kibera and Mukuru slums, Thika, Nakuru and Kisumu would improve the lives of residents of informal settlements.
"Metering will be based on the pre-paid tariff so that they can pay on a day-to-day basis. One could even spend Sh 100, which is very affordable," he said.

The move would ease the residents' dependence on kerosene whose price has increased because of high global fuel prices.
"Our children cannot do homework at night because the little paraffin available is used for cooking," said Ms Priscilla Wanjira, a resident in the Witemere slum in Nyeri. "We have to wake them up at 4:30 a.m. so that they can go to school to complete their homework."

The power is also expected to boost economic activities within the slums.
"Our children have pursued various courses and they will be able to use the electricity in doing work such as welding," said Mr John Kimani, a resident in the Witemere slum.

The project would make use of permanent concrete poles instead wooden ones, whose life span is about 20 years. Special insulated wires have been imported for the project, providing more safety for the areas.
Transformers used in the project would be smaller than regular ones and placed above the electric wires to prevent vandalism. Each is expected to serve between 10 to 20 households.

The large number of transformers to be installed in the slums under the project would take care of future increase in demand for electricity in the slums. Kenya Power would provide special staff in the slums to inspect and educate the residents on dangers created by illegal electricity connections such as fatal accidents and destruction of property through fires.
"Illegal connections are very dangerous because they are done underground and even in wet areas. Some have proved fatal especially for children and animals," said Mr Mwangi.

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