In the 12 months prior to June 2016, nearly 1.3 million Kenyan households were connected to the grid for the first time. This remarkable achievement raised Kenya’s national connectivity rate to 55 percent from a mere 27 percent in 2013.
The recent push for Kenya’s energy access is part of the government’s goal to achieve universal energy access by 2020, a project known as the Last Mile Connectivity Project.
Development experts say that electricity plays a major role in improving many facets of life. Everything from education and agricultural productivity to employment opportunities can improve. Across the African continent, nearly 600 million people, or 70 percent of the population, do not have access to electricity. By reaching its goal, Kenya would become the first African country to achieve universal access to electricity.
To reach its goal, Kenya aims to move from 55 percent to a near universal access rate of 95 percent in just four more years. Such a leap took the U.S. nearly 26 years to accomplish.
Recent feats in energy access prove that Kenya is determined to fulfill its commitment, despite the far-fetched implications of the mission. The jump from 27 percent to 55 percent took Kenya a little more than three years; in the U.S., it took about eight years to increase access by a similar amount.
The next step in Kenya’s energy access plan is to ensure that 70 percent of Kenyans have electricity by the end of this year, hopefully translating to more productivity and an expansion in the job sector. The government’s strategy involves investing heavily, which has proved extremely effective as the government has already secured over $600 million from various international donors.
Kenya’s energy access initiative also acknowledges outside constraints that are keeping people from accessing electricity. The government reduced the connection charge by over 50 percent in the past year. Paying bills in installments is also now an available option. The adjustments in utility finances allow more citizens to realistically include paying for electricity in their budgets.
The Kenyan government’s commitment to achieving universal energy access by 2020 is looking more practical and obtainable than ever. Hopefully, the country will soon make history by achieving its intended goal.
– Mayan Derhy