Kenya ranked among best countries in improving access to electricity

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Kenya has been ranked as the top country in the world in reducing the population with no access to electricity, pointing to the impact of the government’s focus on rural areas for nearly a decade.

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.

According to the World Bank, Kenya’s access to electricity by the year 2019 was up 69.7 percent compared to her neigbouring countries like Uganda (47 percent), Tanzania (37.7 percent) Burundi, 11.1 percent, Rwanda (37.8 percent).

Kenya’s annualized increase in electricity access between 2010 and 2019 was at 5.6 percent, 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 State’s last-mile connectivity program, which was launched in 2014 mainly targeting rural areas.

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.

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“Among the 20 countries with the largest deficits, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Uganda have made the most progress in electrification, as they achieved annual growth in access of more than three percentage points between 2010 and 2019,” says the report.

The report, however, says Kenya is yet to start drawing maximum socio-economic benefits from the increased electrification. The improving electricity access, the report says, should be complemented by promoting productive uses of the power.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), half of the population in Kenya is using as electricity as a source of lighting, giving credence to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s last-mile connectivity project launched in 2015.

Data from the 2019 census reveals that 12.04 million households or 50.4 percent of the population light their homes with electricity.

According to the data, although there are more electricity users in the rural areas at 7.3 million than the urban setting, where only 4.6 million are using electricity for lighting.

The penetration rate is still lowest upcountry, with only 26 percent connected compared to 88.4 percent in the urban setting.

However, despite the milestone, the neighbouring Uganda has been hailed to have performed well in terms of Electricity Regulatory Index (ERI) compared to other EAC, according to the Africa Development Bank report, 2020.

“Uganda has for the third time in a row emerged as the top performer in this year’s Electricity Regulatory Index Report published by the African Development Bank,”

Wale Shonibare, Director for Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulations, at the African Development Bank, said COVID-19 related restrictions had increased residential electricity demand and decreased industrial/commercial demand. This had resulted in shortfalls in the projected revenues of utilities.

The ERI, a flagship report of the African Development Bank, is a composite index which measures the level of development of electricity sector regulatory frameworks in African countries against international standards and best practice.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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