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Agency’s Sh208bn power plan to light up rural areas

The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) plans to spend Sh208 billion to increase commercial and domestic connections across the country.

REA Board chairman Simon Gicharu made the announcement yesterday during launch of the agency’s five-year strategic plan.

“Our board has approved our strategic plan where we shall invest the Sh208billion in connecting more rural areas to electricity and especially embrace renewable energy use, in partnership with our stakeholders,” he said.

REA’s mandate is to accelerate rural electrification projects across Kenya while Kenya Power — a majority State-owned company that is a listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange —manages power distribution and billing of consumers.

REA has been elevated into an autonomous State agency to be run by an independent board unlike in the past when it was under Kenya Power.

Mr Gicharu said REA’s key focus will be to improve electricity supply and promote use of renewable energy across Kenya.

The 10-year old agency’s second strategic plan seeks to deepen penetration of electricity supply to all rural parts of the country especially arid and semi-arid areas located along the national grid and those which are off-grid.

The first strategic plan launched in 2012 mainly focused on connection of power to public facilities, with the Jubilee government emphasising on connecting all primary school to the national grid to enable it launch the digital learning programme.

“Renewable energy is our utmost priority since Kenya has ample sunlight that can generate enough power to power homes and industries. As part of our plan, we will put up a 55megawatt solar farm which is cheaper to run and produces more electricity than Kindaruma hydropower station,” he said.

The board chair also announced increase of staff salaries by between 30 per cent and 40 per cent, to be backdated to October last year.

“We are now at par with our sister agencies but a grade below Kenya Revenue Authority and Central Bank of Kenya. The salary and allowances will be backdated and paid within the next two months,” he told the staff.

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