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The dream of many Kenyans for cheaper electricity connections is set to become a reality with Thursday’s signing of contracts for construction of new power lines and installation of transformers that will cut the cost of connecting homes by more than half to Sh15,000.

The plan dubbed Last Mile Connectivity Project (LMCP) was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in May but has faced implementation delays.
Kenya Power will install additional transformers and power lines closer to unconnected homes through a cheaper technology known as single wire earthing return (SWER), giving consumers cheaper access to electricity.

The SWER technology has enabled the power utility firm to cut the cost of connectivity to Sh15,000 from the Sh35,000 that applicants whose homes are located within 600 metres of a transformer have been paying.
SWER uses single, thinner and lighter cables as opposed to the current system that uses two or four cables to connect domestic consumers.

“The works will start immediately after the contractors sign the contracts with Kenya Power tomorrow (Thursday),” said Energy principal secretary Joseph Njoroge in a phone interview.
Power consumers have the option of paying the Sh15,000 upfront or in instalments through their monthly bills, removing a major hurdle to acceleration of rural electrification.
Kenya Power said households where wiring has not been done will be issued with a “ready board” that comes with sockets and bulb holders.

Unlike the past when home owners had to make applications for connection, Kenya Power will now approach potential customers and offer to hook them to the grid.
In the arrangement, when a resident in an area makes a request to be connected, that application will serve as a basis to install electricity in all neighbouring homes.

The first phase of the project is valued at Sh15.3 billion ($150 million) and will see 314,200 households hooked to the national power grid. The cost of the project stands at Sh34 billion, according to figures obtained from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The government hopes to use the scheme to double connected homes to 70 per cent by 2017.
The low-cost connectivity brings relief to thousands of rural consumers who could not afford the Sh70,000 and above that Kenya Power demanded for homes located outside the 600 metres radius of a transformer.

Under the LMCP initiative, the requirement that distinguished between customers living within and beyond the 600 metre radius of transformer is effectively removed because the State will shoulder the costs of bringing transformers closer to homes.


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