Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA) will spend over Sh217 billion (US$2.1 billion) in the next five years to increase electricity connectivity in the country.
REA Chairman Simon Gicharu said the funds will be expended to connect all the public facilities such as churches, health centres, trading centres, mosques and public primary schools.
Other amenities include tea buying centres, coffee factories and processing plants, police posts, water projects and boreholes, secondary schools, institutions of higher learning and vocational training centres.
“The plan focuses more on the use of renewable energy for provision of electricity to areas that are far away from the national grid. This is expected to enhance industrialization and emergence of cottage industries,” Gicharu said during the launch of the 2016/17 -2020/2021 strategic plan in Nairobi early this week.
Since 2006, he said, REA has connected to the national grid more public facilities mainly public primary schools increasing electricity uptake from 30 percent in 2006 to 70 percent in 2016, while the number of trading centres with electricity in off grid areas increased to 108 in 2016.
Gicharu said REA has been under the New Energy Bill assigned by the government the responsibility of developing renewable energy.
REA will be changed to Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation to implement the rural electrification program as well as the development and promotion of renewable energy.
REA chief executive officer Ng’ang’a Munyu confirmed that among major renewable projects will be the installation of 55MW of solar power in Garissa County by February 2018.
The project already underway is being funded by a soft loan of 138 million dollars extended to Kenya government by China Exim Bank, Munyu said.
“Once the solar power is ready, the surplus power will be connected to the national grid, “said Munyu, implying REA will have to reach a power purchasing agreement with the Kenya Power Company.
Gicharu pointed out that the projected funds to finance the five-year plan will be sourced from the exchequer, sale of generated power resources, partnership with county governments through the matching fund facility, development partners and various investors through Public Private Partnership Agreements.
By June 2016, Gicharu explained that there were about 88,570 public facilities in the country, of which 60, 247 were electrified and 28,323 were un-electrified accounting 68 percent and 32 percent respectively.
“The 2016/17-2020/2021 strategic plan targets to electrify the remaining public facilities and households within their vicinity by June 2018 and then focus on households,” he added.
The total un-electrified public facilities in the off-grid areas currently stands at 3,787, of which 629 are trading centres.
The authority intends to connect the public facilities through establishment of about 450 renewable energy mini-grids.
The balance of the trading centres and other public facilities will be electrified through interconnection of the existing diesel mini grids and the national grid.
Within the grid network, the 24,536 unconnected public facilities will be electrified through extension of the grid.