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Kenyan power industry evolves

The Kenyan power system has an effective generation capacity of 1,031 MW, comprising 641 MW of hydro, 262 MW of fossil-thermal and 128 MW of geothermal plants. Peak power demand stands at 920 MW.

  MI 4 2005 WV Kenya

The transmission network comprises 1,323 km of 220kV, 2,035 km of 132kV and 600 km of 66kV lines. Kenya is currently interconnected with Uganda through a 132 kV double circuit line. The distribution network comprises 15,287 km of 11kV, 5,973 km of 33 KV and 58 km of 40kV system. The 40kV is being phased out. Total system losses are currently 18%; there are some 750,000 electricity customers, giving some 15% of the population access to electricity.


Following restructuring of the power sector in the 1990s, public-owned generation assets are vested in the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), which supplies about 80% of total energy. Three independent power producers (IPPs), a sugar factory and imports from Uganda provide the balance. All public-owned transmission assets are vested in the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited (KPLC), responsible for transmission and distribution functions countrywide. The Government of Kenya (GoK) owns 51% of KPLC shares and the 49% private shares are traded on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE).

Through the Ministry of Energy, GoK is responsible for policy formulation, while the Electricity Regulatory Board (ERB) is responsible for regulation of the power sector. The government is in the process of selling 30% of its shareholding in KenGen through the NSE and intends to reduce its shareholding in KPLC to 39% in 3-4 years. KPLC is implementing a US$153 million distribution reinforcement and upgrade project, which includes a SCADA/EMS sub-project and supply of 400,000 meters over 4-5 years. The project is aimed at improving quality of supply, reducing system losses and facilitating connection of about 150,000 new customers annually. To meet projected demand, additional generation capacity of 423 MW will be implemented by mid 2008 by KenGen and IPPs. According to GoK’s Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2004 on Energy, transmission will in the long term be unbundled from distribution, to facilitate a competitive power market. ERB will become the Energy Regulatory Commission with a mandate over petroleum too. Meanwhile, some immediate internal restructuring measures in KPLC are being taken to enhance  operational efficiency. These include the appointment of a management services contractor to run the company for 2-3 years, and separation of the transmission and distribution businesses, with separate tariffs and financial accounts.


In August 2005, KPLC launched an electronic bill service, enabling customers to access their bill balances through e-mail. A similar service through SMS (text messaging) on mobile phones will be available in early 2006. Regarding metering, KPLC will tender by the end of 2005 for a 5,000 prepayment meter pilot project in Nairobi. The results of the pilot over 6 months will inform the decision on roll-out of the meters. We expect that a significant portion of future domestic customers will use prepayment meters.