Kenya Power aims to speed up connections to grid

Former Kenya Power MD Ben Chumo. Photo/FILE
Former Kenya Power MD Ben Chumo. Photo/FILE

Kenya Power aims to speed up the number of customers it adds to the grid in the year to June, as part of its plans to improve access across the nation where only two-thirds of the population is connected.

In the year to June 2016, Kenya Power added 1.2 million new customers to reach a total of 4.89 million. It aims to add 1.5 million new clients, including households and businesses, by the end of June 2017.

Kenya Power Chief Executive Ben Chumo outlined the plans in an interview with Reuters.

Businesses and economists say limited distribution of power across the East African nation and supplies that are often disrupted are a major obstacle to investment and prevent the economy growing faster.

Kenya Power, 50.1 percent state-owned, receives most of its funds in concessional or soft loans from institutions such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank and the government.

The last time it sought funds in the commercial market was 2010, when it raised 9.8 billion Kenyan shillings ($96 million), via a rights issue.

“We have no immediate intention for going to the market,” Chumo said when asked about future finance raising plans. “We are adequately supported by the donor community.”

Kenya Power aims to secure additional revenue by leasing extra capacity on its fibre optic network, via its subsidiary Kenya Power International, the chief executive said.

“Fibre optic business at KPLC is a sleeping giant we intend to awake,” he said.

Fibre optic leasing earned Kenya Power revenue of 259 million shillings in 2014/15, 271 million shillings in 2015/16 and this was expected to rise to 400 million in 2016/17.

It already counts telecoms companies such as Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Orange as its clients.

To assist industry, the company was working to ensure more stable supplies to Nairobi’s industrial area and nearby Thika town, which together serve about 6,000 industrial customers and account for 60 percent of Kenya Power’s revenue, Chumo said.

Many firms run stand-by generators because of unreliable supplies, adding to their costs.

Kenya Power posted a pretax profit for the year to the end of June 2016 of 12.1 billion shillings, a fall of 1.4 percent.

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