About 60 % of Kenya’s power is derived from hydroelectric sources and with Kenya in recent times being subjected to perennial drought and erratic rainfall, generation capacity has been affected resulting in widespread voltage variations and increased incidences of power outages - with the more rural areas having been worst affected.
Kenya has been facing severe power shortages, which have stifled economic growth potential and efforts to improve the welfare of citizens. Only 25% of the population has access to electricity, and rural grid access is only about 5%.
The largest share of Kenya's electricity supply comes from hydroelectric stations at dams along the upper Tana River, as well as the Turkwel Gorge Dam in the west. A petroleum-fired plant on the coast, geothermal facilities at Olkaria (near Nairobi), and electricity imported from Uganda make up the rest of the supply.
The state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) handles the generation of electricity, while the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), which is slated for privatization, handles transmission and distribution.
Scaling-up access to electricity and ensuring reliable power supply are key elements of Vision 2030, the Kenyan government’s national development strategy to promote economic development, growth and competitiveness, and job creation. The government has an ambitious goal: to achieve 40% energy access by 2030. This will be done by increasing electricity generation capacity to 11,510 Megawatt from the currently estimated installed capacity of 1,473 Megawatt.
VIDEO: The Nairobi Ring Project - will expand the transmission network around Nairobi to reduce technical losses and improve voltage conditions
With demand for electricity rising at an annual rate of in excess of 14% and the ambitious new power generation plans of the government likely to take considerable time to deliver actual usable capacity, Kenyans should be bracing themselves for more of the same power problems in the short to medium term.
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