• The Kenyan government, supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), launched the Sh13.5 billion Last Mile Connectivity Project in 2017.
  • The objective of the project was to extend  low voltage network to reach households located within 600 meters of a transformer.
President Uhuru Kenyatta switches on power at a home in Kikuyu constituency which was connected under the last mile project/ Image: FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta switches on power at a home in Kikuyu constituency which was connected under the last mile project/ Image: FILE

The Kenyan government, supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), launched the Sh13.5 billion Last Mile Connectivity Project in 2017.

The objective of the project was to extend  low voltage network to reach households located within 600 meters of a transformer.

The number of households connected to electricity increased from 2.3 million which translates to about 12.8 million Kenyans in 2013 to 6.2 million households (34.1 million Kenyans) during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first term.

This was a 170 per cent increase that has seen an additional 21.3 million Kenyans benefit from electricity access in just over four years compared to 12.8 million Kenyans over the previous 50 years.

Among the many factors for growth is that the cost for installation of electricity was dropped from Sh35,000 down to only Sh15, 000 to speed up the Government’s agenda to have at least 70 per cent of Kenyan households connected to electricity by 2017.

Those who couldn’t pay the Sh15, 000 at one go still got connected and had the option of making payment by installments through their bills.

World Bank ranked Kenya as the top country with the highest electricity access rate in East Africa, with total access at 75 per cent, as of early 2021, up from 53% in 2016 both from the grid and off-grid solutions. Together with the off-grid solutions, the objective is to reach universal access to energy for the Kenyan population by 2022. 

The Energy Progress Report for 2021, a product of a partnership between the World Bank and bodies such as the International Energy Agency, says Kenya’s electrification pace is now ahead of population growth.

Kenya’s annualised increase in electricity access between 2010 and 2019 was 5.6 percent, which was the largest among the top 20 countries in the world with the biggest electricity access gap.

The increased pace of electrification, also supported by off-grid solutions such as solar, points to the fruits of the Government’s last-mile connectivity program.

Kenya’s growth dwarfed the world’s average growth of 0.8 percent, with the closest countries being Bangladesh (4.1 percent), Uganda (3.2 percent), Tanzania (2.5 percent), India (2.4 percent), Myanmar, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with 2.2 percent each.

“Achieving affordable, accessible, and reliable digital infrastructure for businesses and households is a foundational requirement for unlocking the potential of the digital economy,” President Uhuru Kenyatta recently said in an address.

Besides high connectivity and sustainability, Kenya has one of the most affordable energies in the region and is expected to become even cheaper, thanks to the ongoing energy reforms championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s task force.

Early this year, the Ministry of Energy announced a 15 per cent cut on power tariffs and another reduction of 15 per cent within the current financial year.

This follows a presidential command that the cost of power be reduced by 30 per cent upon renegotiation of existing power purchase agreements among other reforms in the sector.

The cost of power has since dropped from Sh24 per kilowatt to Sh20.4 and is expected to decline even further by another 15 per cent to Sh16 per unit by end of June when the second phase of the reduction will be implemented.

Manufacturers shall enjoy a cost reduction of between Sh2.67 – 3.64 per unit of electricity, depending on their respective tariff and consumption levels.

The cost of power will further be reduced for industries that meet the Time of Use Tariff threshold.

This is a significant milestone towards realizing long-standing efforts to reduce power costs, boost local manufacturing, and consequently, investments in the sector.