16 July 2012

Kenya: Water Companies Losing 50 Percent Revenues

Water service providers across the country have been losing more than half their potential income due to a wave of illegal connections, according to the Water Services Regulatory Board. The board says money is also being lost through wrong meter readings and lack of proper billing processes. Robert Gakubia, the chief executive of WASREB said this loss in revenues that would have been re-invested can be blamed on existing inefficiencies in the water supply systems which means consumers may continue to suffer for long.

Currently only about 40 per cent of the rural population and 60 per cent of urban population have access to clean water pipe, but even with the connection, the water supply is not consistent. Gakubia added that over 80 per cent of the water available in the country cannot be accounted for due to wastage, leaking pipes and lack of planning.

An example is the flood water that goes to waste during rainy seasons and shortly followed by dry taps and water generating dams. Kenya's energy crisis has mostly in the past been attributed to drought since the economy relies on hydro-generated power. "How can it be that when it is raining, energy companies can be saying the water levels are low...these two are related," Gakubia said during the release of a sector report.

The report '"Energy Audits for Water Service Providers in Kenya' sampled 29 water companies and their use of energy in water production and distribution. Collectively, the service providers wasted about Sh103 million in one year to energy costs. According to the audit, the annual cost for the 29 companies to produce a total output of 108 million cubic meters of water is Sh965 million yet this cost could be cut down by about 8 per cent.

Some of the measures proposed in the audit include use of solar and renewable energy to cut electricity costs incurred as well as replacing faulty pumps, pipes and meters. However, the regulator did not outline what action it plans to take to curb the rising instances of illegal water connections. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation said there are new regulations coming up to see better use of water resources.

Peter Mangiti, director of water services said there is a new Water Bill that will soon to be presented to Parliament to support devolution of water provision services to the counties. "This will bring the role of water service providers and the demand on their performance to even greater focus when they will now operate under the county government," said Mangiti.

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