7 January 2019

Kenya: Nairobians Cut Power Consumption for First Time in Five Years

Photo: Salaton Njau/Nation Media Group
An aerial view of Nairobi.

Homes and factories in Nairobi for the first time since 2013 cut their electricity consumption, signaling reduced economic activity in the capital.

Kenya Power data show electricity consumption in the city in the year to June dropped to 3.83 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) from 3.913 billion in similar period a year earlier, pulled down by large commercial users and domestic consumers.

The drop cut the share of Nairobi's holding of the Kenya Power's electricity sales from 50.2 per cent in the year to June 2017 to 48.5 per cent -- the first time the share has dropped to below 50 per cent since the onset of devolution.

CENTRALISED SYSTEM

The heavy concentration of power consumption in Nairobi indicates inequality in the country's economic development, which has partly been attributed to the previous centralised system of government which guided sharing of resources since Independence.

Devolution raised hopes of addressing the economic imbalance, but analysts say there is a need to offer incentives to attract private investors to counties.

Nairobi's consumption of power by city's commercial and industrial users dropped to 1.44 billion units from 1.6 billion the previous year while that of households dropped to below a billion to 779 million kWh, down from 1.119 billion--reflecting a 12.5 per cent drop.

Power consumption is often an indicator of the number of electrical equipment plugged onto the national grid -- including industrial machinery -- pointing to economic output.

It may also be a result of increased use of home appliances such as TV sets and refrigerators that point to improvement in household incomes and rising standards of living.

LARGEST CONCENTRATION

Nairobi has the largest concentration of industries and wealthy homes in the country, with half of the large power users located in the city's Industrial Area and central business district.

Kenya Power has divided the country into four regions; Nairobi, Mount Kenya, Coast and Western.

Mt Kenya, which includes North Eastern region, is the least consumer having used 1.213 billion units, up from 1.135 billion the previous year.

This is lower than the 1.43 billion consumption in Coast, which has less consumers, indicating more consumption per capita in the region.

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