The Kenya electricity production is expected to increase to over 5000 MW over the next few years. The Kenyan government is working towards increasing the capacity to enable the country realize its 2030 goals.
Reliable and affordable electric energy is a key component if a country wants to sustain economic growth and become a global player. One cannot plan for development and fail to provide sufficient energy to drive it. Kenya needs over 10,000 MW of electricity, if it is to achieve Vision 2030 in its effort to become a mid-income economy. For instance, the Kenyan government says the standard gauge railway which is expected to be complete in the next three years will need at least 1,000MW to run efficiently. The government has also set aside 675MW for Konza City and other ICT parks. Currently the country produces 1,955 MW with only 23 percent of its population connected to the national grid.
In this regard, the Government says it has started a programme that would see the country produce up to 5,000 MW in the next three years. Once complete, the cost of energy is expected to reduce by 40 per cent. The programme which will see various power projects commissioned is expected to cost $17.5 billion and will involve several projects deal with liquefied natural gas, geothermal, hydro power, coal, wind, and solar sub-sectors.
Generating electricity in Kenya
The government intends to encourage investors in the geothermal sub-sector so as to achieve at least 1,900MW of geothermal electrical power generation by 2016. The Geothermal power in Kenya is expected to reach 5000MW by 2030. The government is also carrying extensive coal exploration in the Mui Basin of Kitui County where a total of 76 wells have been drilled. It is expected coal will provide about 1,900MW of electricity generation by 2016 and 4,500MW by 2030.
The government also hopes to exploit hydro power which has been the main traditional source of energy currently accounting close to 50% of installed generation capacity. The programme will see an increase of 420MW in hydro power by year 2016. Other sources includes wind which is set to contribute 650MW and liquefied natural gas, with a plant in Dongo Kundu in Mombasa set to produce 700MW. The government is also negotiating with Qatar for a deal that will allow it to purchase natural gas at concessional prices. Kenya has also discovered natural gas at Mbawa in Lamu though its viability is yet to be ascertained.
KenGen will be the main investor in most of the projects, but the plan also relies heavily on independent power producers.
Cheaper electricity prices in Kenya expected
If this programme is achieved the cost of generating power will reduce from US¢ 11.30 to 7.41 per unit. The commercial and industrial customers will see their power cost reduce from US cents 14.14 to 9 while domestic customers will see a reduction from US cents 19.78 to 10.45 per unit.
Recently manufacturers have complained that the high cost of power which makes cost of production rise is passed on to the consumers. Currently, is estimated the cost of electricity in the country to be double the rate in Egypt and the government hopes closing this gap will encourage more foreign investor to come to the country.
Increasing the Kenya electricity production capacity will lower manufacturing costs and enable Kenyan products competitive in the market. In addition, if prices are lowered, many people will connect the power and engage in various businesses.