Sugarbelt region loses industrial steam as power usage drops

Sugarbelt region loses industrial steam as power usage drops

Mumias Sugar Company. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard] The closure and scaling down of large companies operating in western Kenya as well as constrained power supply to the region has over the last decade resulted in a sharp drop in power consumption.

State-owned sugar millers and the Panpaper mills are among the companies that have either shut down or significantly slowed down on their processes.

Data on power consumption by both Kenya Power and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) show a sharp drop over the years, a trend that if not reversed could very well see the region miss out on benefiting from the government’s Big Four Agenda, which has manufacturing among its key pillars.

Consumption of electricity in the region peaked in the 2013/14 financial year when domestic and commercial customers bought a total of 1.12 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, according to KNBS data.

This would however drop sharply in the following year, with electricity sales to consumers in the region reaching 525 million units (kWh).

It reached a low of 368 million units over the 2015/16 financial year but has since started to make some recovery. This has however been slow, with the amount of power sold to the region by Kenya Power standing at 395 million units over the year to June 2021.

There has been a major drop in consumption within the Commercial and Industrial 1 (CI1) category of consumers, who are fairly large companies metred at 415 volts. Power consumption for this category of customers in Western Kenya has dropped to 65 million units as of June 2021. This is a reduction of more than 50 per cent from 149 million units consumed over the 2014/15 financial year.

The CI1 firms typically have a monthly consumption of over 15,000 units of electricity. Most of the large companies categorised as commercial and industrial fall under this category and numbered about 2,900 as at June 2021, according to Kenya Power’s annual report.

It is the case across the other commercial and industrial customer categories, where for instance CI5 category consumed 17 million units of power in the year to June 2021. This is down from 84 million units in the year to June 2015. The CI5 is the category for the very large power consumers who are metred at 132 kilovolts (KV).

Despite the drop in consumption, the number of consumers in the region have gone up significantly increasing to 512,000 as of June 2021 […]

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