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Lawmaker roots for liberalization of Kenya Power

Kenya should shift to a liberalised power distribution model to address the frequent power outages that have become an eyesore to the country’s image.

Tetu MP Geoffrey Wandeto responding to last Friday’s nationwide power blackout that lasted for close to 20 hours, leaving behind a trail of woes, said Kenya cannot afford to witness a similar hitch, and must now move with speed to expand the number of power utility firms in the country.

Wandeto termed the current arrangement, where Kenya Power enjoys an almost absolute monopoly in supplying electricity in the country, as overly ambitious and risky, and one that needs to be addressed if the country hopes to avert another major power crisis in the near future.

“As a country, how do we build a sustainable power grid that serves the country?” he posed, during Citizen’s TV breakfast show Tuesday.

“Our overreliance on one distributor is something we need to start questioning. We all know what happened when we relied on one telephone operator. This whole thing of liberalising power distribution is an overdue thing. If we had two Kenya Power companies, may be one of them would have been working in the event the other one went down,” he pointed out.

The MP has also defended the ongoing probe by the State on the circumstances that led to last week’s power outage, saying it was too early to start peddling wild speculations on what might really have happened.

He has nevertheless insisted that those found to have slept on their jobs should be ready to answer to their failings to ensure such an occurrence does not arise again.

Friday’s power outage almost brought the country to a standstill with business operators, multinationals, medical facilities and major airports forced to seek alternative power sources as the electricity crisis dragged on for hours.

Kenya Power has blamed the blackout on “a system disturbance leading to the loss of bulk power supply” at the Lake Turkana Wind Power plant.

But, Wandeto has also challenged the country to invest into additional sources of energy other than hydroelectric power which is at times erratic owing to climatic changes and unforeseen technical failures.

He has singled out electricity and solar power as ideal energy drivers of the country’s development agenda adding that Kenya cannot afford to lose track on her goal of becoming a newly industrialized country by 2030 owing to lack of a reliable sources of power

“We do not have our own petroleum but we have other emerging energy sources. The country has 87 per cent other renewable sources. Some of the things we are running on petrol we can transition to the use of electricity such as electricity vehicles and electric motorcycles. But the cost of energy(oil)is to be compensated by other things that are coming down such as the cost of food that is set to come down after we harvest our maize in one month’s time,” he added.

Kenya is set to host the inaugural Africa Climate Summit from September 4 to September 6 with a goal of coming up with a common continental voice on tackling emerging issues on climate through The Nairobi Declaration ahead of the upcoming COP28 slated for December in UAE.

Next month’s meet will run parallel with the African Climate Week (to run between September 4 to September 8) and will provide a platform for policymakers, practitioners, businesses and civil society to exchange notes on climate solutions, barriers and opportunities realized in different regions.

Among items to be discussed in the two-day convention include transition to non-fossil fuel to green energy under the Energy Systems and Industry agenda as one way of combating the adverse effects of global warming.

More than 14,000 participants from 136 countries who include 20 Africa heads of states and representatives of international organizations, civil society among others are expected to attend.

Among hhigh profile guests expected to address the Summit whose theme is “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World include President William Ruto and UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

By Samuel Maina

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