State authority seeks nod to sell power in rural areas

Rural Electrification Authority Chairman Simon Gicharu at a past event. [Photo: File, Standard]

Rural Electrification Authority (REA) plans to challenge Kenya Power’s monopoly in electricity distribution. REA says it is readying a proposal to sell power directly to clients not connected to the main grid instead of installing generators and relinquishing them to Kenya Power.

Authority Chairman Simon Gicharu says they have got a nod from the State Corporations Advisory Committee to change their classification to start retailing power. “We have approvals to re-categorise REA from three to two, which should bring us close to being category one that includes commercially-oriented parastatals like Kenya Power and Kenya Pipeline,” said Mr Gicharu.

Double staff

The agency wants to double its staff from 291 to 481 and restructure the organisation to include three general managers for strategy and planning, technical services and corporate services.

“We were relying on hired external services which resulted in poor workmanship and failing transformers but that is a thing of the past. With the expanded staff we will be able to get the best talent, retain them and monitor and follow up on all our installations,” said Mr Gicharu.

He added that out of the 291 staff they currently have, 113 are on contract but they would want to hire them on permanent basis with better terms. The authority said it will spend an additional Sh300 million a year on perks.

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REA recently set up a diesel powered plant or gensets in Garissa at Sh100 million and handed it over to Kenya Power. The chairman says once they increase their capacity they will start retailing power. “We have the Sh14 billion solar plant that will produce 55-megawatt of power able to light up 625,000 primary schools this year and we can get more income from there and the minigrids,” he said.

Kenya has spent more than Sh30 billion to connect 22,587 primary schools to electricity to enable introduction of the digital learning programme. Gicharu says the authority has set up 646 primary schools and plans to complete 7 gensets at Kamorliban, Kakuma, Lokiriama, Korodhiia, Kotulo, Banisa and Maikona.

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