NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Small power consumers in Kenya have been hit harder
by the rising cost of electricity as the east African nation
grapples with power production following erratic rains.
to low water levels, Kenya is mulling closing some hydropower dams
that have generated power for years.
As a result, the country would rely more on geothermal power
production increase output from expensive thermal sources, heaping
pressure on small consumers.
The cost of electricity has already hit an all-time high, with
those using some 50 kilowatts per hour (KWh) a month experiencing
the steepest price surge.
Latest data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that
in January, families that consumed 50KWh paid 6.8 U.S. dollars, up
from 6.6 dollars in December.
However, in January 2017, families consuming 50KWh of electricity
a month paid 5.5 dollars, meaning the cost has risen by 22.1 percent
over the same period.
On the other hand, middle-income families that consumed 200KWh in
January paid 40 dollars, up from 35 dollars a year ago, a 14 percent
"I have been forced to stop using gadgets like electric heaters
and even iron boxes ... to try and manage my electricity bill,"
George Osundwa, a father of two living on the east of Nairobi, said
Osundwa, a furniture trader, said his bill in January stood at 16
dollars, up from the usual 12 dollars.
"There were complaints of the power utility company issuing
inflated bills due to change in billing system, and affected
consumers were supposed to take their complaints to the firm for
resolution, but I could not because I am a prepaid customer," he
The surge in power bills in January for most consumers was
attributed to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) raising the
forex and fuel levies segment of power bills.
Forex levy rose to a high of 0.01 dollars. The forex levy segment
caters for foreign currency costs that include loans that power
On Tuesday, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter announced that
the government may close Masinga Dam in the next two weeks if it
does not rain.
"If it does not rain, the government would shut down the dam
because water levels are too low to allow continued production of
power," said Keter.
Kenya is currently generating about 200 million KWh of
electricity from hydro sources each month, according to ERC data.
From geothermal power, the east African nation is producing some
400 million KWh of electricity every month, with the source which is
cheaper remaining stable.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that
electricity prices have a direct effect on inflation, which is
expected to rise in coming months.
At the end of January, Kenya’s inflation stood at 4.83 percent,
up from 4.50 percent in December.