Kenyans had to bear the burden of high energy costs after the government reneged on promises to make power more accessible and affordable.
In 2018, Kenyans witnessed significant increases in the cost of electricity and petroleum products, which resulted in rising costs of consumer goods and the cost of living.
In July, the government promised that investments in renewable sources like geothermal, wind and solar would herald the beginning of cheaper electricity.
But the Energy Regulatory Commission unveiled harmonised electricity tariffs that saw the cost of power rise by an average of 30 per cent.
In September, the government imposed a 16 per cent value added tax on petroleum products, ultimately making fuel prices among the highest in the region. After protests, the VAT was revised to eight per cent.
The impact of high energy and petroleum prices has been evident in the cost of living, with 24 per cent of Kenyans contending that it is a major cause of worry, according to a poll by research firm Infotrak.
“The research established that the top three issues of concern to Kenyans are the high cost of living (24 per cent), unemployment (23 per cent) and corruption (18 per cent),” said Infotrak CEO Angela Ambitho, while releasing the poll report on December 20.
However, the government continued in its efforts to enhance electricity generation, transmission and distribution, and also improve the supply of petroleum products locally and to neighbouring countries.
Renewable energy currently makes up 70 per cent of Kenya’s installed electric power capacity.
This has been boosted by the privately owned Lake Turkana Wind Power, which has started injecting part of the 300MW into the national grid, paving the way for the phasing out of expensive thermal power.
Emphasis is also being placed on geothermal. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company is accelerating investments in initiatives such as the 64MW Olkaria V geothermal project.