Mombasa, Kenya – The Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Petroleum, Charles Chirchir, has blamed the nationwide blackout that occurred on Monday on the lack of adequate investment in the power sector.
Speaking at a press conference in Mombasa, Chirchir said that the power outage was caused by a fault in the transmission line that connects the Olkaria geothermal power plant to the national grid. He said that the line, which was built in the 1980s, was outdated and overloaded, and that it needed urgent upgrading.
“The line has been operating beyond its capacity for a long time, and it was only a matter of time before it failed. We have been requesting for funds to replace it, but we have not received any. It is bound to happen again if we do not invest in our infrastructure,” Chirchir said.
He added that the government was working to restore power to all parts of the country as soon as possible, and that he had ordered an investigation into the incident. He also apologized to the public for the inconvenience caused by the blackout, which affected businesses, schools, hospitals, and households.
The nationwide blackout, which lasted for about six hours, was the second one to hit the country this year. In January, a similar outage occurred due to a technical glitch at the Turkwel hydroelectric power station. The frequent blackouts have raised concerns about the reliability and stability of the power supply in the country, which relies heavily on hydro and geothermal sources.
According to the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), the country’s sole electricity distributor, the national peak demand for electricity is about 1,900 megawatts (MW), while the installed generation capacity is about 2,400 MW. However, the actual available capacity is often lower due to maintenance, breakdowns, and weather conditions.
The government has been pursuing various initiatives to increase the power generation capacity and diversify the energy mix. These include the construction of the Lamu coal-fired power plant, the development of the Lake Turkana wind power project, and the expansion of the geothermal and solar power plants. The government also plans to connect the country to the regional power pool, which will enable the import and export of electricity from neighboring countries.
However, these projects have faced various challenges, such as delays, cost overruns, environmental and social impacts, and legal disputes. As a result, the country’s power sector remains vulnerable to shocks and disruptions, which affect the economic growth and development of the country.