Digital Literacy Programme (DLP) in Tana River County is facing serious challenges due to lack of power connectivity in most schools.
This is despite the government pumping more than Sh477 million to have all schools in the county connected to either the national grid or to solar power.
Officials from the Kenya Power Company (KP) and the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) said 170 schools had been connected, 45 to the national grid and 125 to solar power.
Of the 125 that had been fitted with solar power equipment, 79 had faulty equipment, Rodgers Mogire of REA told the County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee during a meeting at the County Commissioner’s board room.
He said REA officials were doing their best to repair all faulty kits by the end of June 2019. “Our team is on the ground on the issues of maintenance and we believe that by the end of June this year, all solar panels and equipment will have been repaired,” he said.
Mogire said that seven new schools had not yet been connected to power and that they would be considered for the programme in the next financial year.
However, he lamented that vandals were frustrating the authority’s efforts, but warned that there were no budgetary provisions for vandalized equipment, hence the need for school authorities to be vigilant.
The official was however put to task to explain why REA had requested for more funds yet it had been given Sh477 million to connect 199 schools.
“Why have you requested for more funds yet there are 22 more schools to be connected using the already availed funds?,” posed the Presidential Delivery Unit Director John Ndiritu.
Kenya Power’s Hezron Korir said some schools had been disconnected from power supply due to outstanding debts amounting to Sh74, 967.
He said Kenya Power was planning to install 20 new 100 KV transformers to serve the last mile connectivity, adding that schools adjacent to the transformers would be automatically connected.
The project targets to connect 6,000 new customers before the end of this financial year, he said, adding that 65 percent of the county’s population will have been connected to the national grid by the end of the financial year.
During the meeting, it was observed that only one out of the 45 primary schools in Tana North Sub County was connected to the national grid, with the rest using solar power.
County Director of Education Lawrence Karuntimi said lack of power and network connectivity had impacted negatively on the implementation of the DLP and the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS).
By Emmanuel Masha