Kenya suffers massive power cut : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

WIRE:07/22/2000 18:20:00 ET Kenya suffers massive power cut, due to last two days NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Power went off across Kenya on Saturday and the nation of 29 million people will be largely without electricity for the next two days because of technical problems, the electric company said. Electricity went off about 6:30 p.m. throughout the capital, Nairobi, and in most other parts of the country.

In a statement on national radio, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company said a "major fault" had occurred in transmission of power from neighboring Uganda. It said the problem would take two days to fix. That means this East African nation will be largely without power, except for those who have private generators. A few private hospitals have generators, but there were no immediate reports on emergency measures for other public facilities.

A crisis in Kenya"s domestic electricity production has left it dependent on electricity from Uganda and has forced it into severe rationing for private and commercial consumers. President Daniel arap Moi has on several occasions blamed the power shortage on the prolonged drought in the region, which has slashed output from Kenya"s hydroelectric dams. Other members of his administration have blamed the World Bank for withdrawing funding for power projects in the early 1990s. The World Bank, however, dismissed those claims Friday, saying Moi"s government was to blame for the power crisis because of its delays in implementing new projects. World Bank country director Harold Wackman said that if the government had followed an agreed-upon schedule, seven new power plants _ two funded by institutions linked to the World Bank _ would have been commissioned between 1998 and 2000. Those projects were to have been completed by this year. "This analysis shows that the present power crisis is caused much more by the long delays in the implementation of the planned projects than the failure of the long rains or the suspension of World Bank funding," Wackman said. "These are the facts about the current power supply crisis," he said in a statement. "Attempts to distort them or pass the buck won"t solve the crisis." The World Bank halted funding for Kenyan power projects in the early 1990s, but resumed lending after the government passed reforms in the energy sector.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 22, 2000


Story Filed: Saturday, July 22, 2000 3:08 PM EST

Nairobi (The Nation, July 22, 2000) - The Kenya Power and Lighting Company is flouting its rationing schedules, businessmen in four major industrial towns complained yesterday.

From Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nyeri came complaints that the company was not supplying their central business districts when it ought to.

The four towns and parts of Nairobi have in the past few weeks suffered intermittent power blackouts, some lasting several days.

In Nairobi, a KPLC spokesman admitted the problem, but attributed it to a breakdown in supply from Uganda. He also blamed low-system voltages and frequencies "due to a high-load demand by consumers resulting from changed consumption patterns".

Earlier, a technician at the firm's Kisumu emergency office, Mr. Benjamin Onsongo, attributed the outages to "unprogrammed emergency shut-downs".

He promised consumers that the problem would be sorted out within the next one week.

Yesterday, Kisumu and Eldoret towns went without power for most of the day. Local KPLC officials attributed this to equipment breakdown.

Angry Kisumu traders insisted the blackout was deliberate rationing which they termed illegal as it was not scheduled.

The town's centre has been experiencing a six-hour power blackout daily in the past three weeks.

Eldoret town suffered one of its longest power blackouts yesterday, paralysing businesses for the better part of the day.

The power outage, which most residents believe is deliberate rationing, started at 7.15 am and ended at about 2 p.m., leaving many businesses closed.

Hardest hit were bakeries, hospitals, computer firms and other business that rely on electricity.

A survey by Nation showed little activity as businessmen complained that the situation, if allowed to continue, could lead to the collapse of their undertakings.

In Nyeri town, some areas earlier exempted from cuts were going without power for more than 15 hours.

But the power company's area manager, Mr. David Mwaniki, denied that a rationing schedule had been put in place.

"There is no way we can extend rationing without informing customers," Mr. Mwaniki said.

The area was hit by a blackout yesterday morning, which continued throughout the day, worsening resident's fears.

Frantic consumers who called the Nation Nyeri office demanded to know whether rationing had been extended to the area, and why they had not been informed.

At Eldoret's Moi National Teaching and Referral Hospital, an administrator said laboratory activities and the casualty wing had been adversely affected.

"Although we have a stand-by generator in the theatre, our services have been adversely affected by the rationing and we wonder what would happen if emergencies like accidents occur," he said by telephone.

A watch repairer, Mr. Kipkorir Menjo, accused the KPLC of failing to adhere to the rationing schedule.

Bakery owners said the rationing had negatively impacted on their businesses "as we cannot operate at night when there's electricity because we need to sell the bread the same day."

A KPLC official who asked not to be named said, "the rationing today must have been caused by system imbalance."

"This is what sometimes causes unscheduled rationing because our engineers try to balance the supply from the Juja Control near Nairobi for the whole country," he said.

He added: "North Rift Control at Lessos is still part of the national grid and would depend on what happens in Juja. Even the power from Uganda has to go to Juja first before redistribution."

In Kisumu blackouts have reduced industrial production by an estimated 50 per cent, according to a spokesman of the local Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry branch.

Firms and private clinics housed in tall buildings are the worst hit as their lifts have been disabled by the outages.

A doctor operating a clinic at the towering Kenya National Assurance Building complained that most of his patients could not walk up the stairs to his clinic.

Banks and major hotels in the town centre are spending huge sums of money to run generators.

When the rationing started three weeks, ago KPLC officials said the outages were not due to rationing but a technical problem at their Kipevu plant.

They promised then, that the problem would be solved in a week's time.

Hundreds of Jua Kali artisans in the town have also complained over "biased rationing".

The latest rationing schedule has left Kisumu residents with nowhere frustrated. "Residential estates are in darkness. The town centre is now teeming with generators," said a civil servant, Mr. Kepha Omondi.

Business people in Nyeri town said they have been grossly inconvenienced as the cuts were abrupt and unexpected.

He said the blackouts had been occasioned by a power surge that caused a breakdown in the system that supplies the area.

"The company is trying to distribute power to the areas during off- peak hours, and we are working around the clock," Mr. Mwaniki said.

He added that power had been restored in Karatina, Othaya, Kutus, Kerugoya, Embu and other areas would be supplied as soon as the problem is rectified. cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0#doc

-- Martin Thompson (, July 23, 2000.

Monday, 24 July, 2000, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK More power cuts likely in Kenya

Energy officials in Kenya say more power cuts are likely during the next few days as engineers attempt to correct technical problems which cut supplies to most of the country at the weekend. The massive power failure followed months of deteriorating supply which has left most Kenyans without electricity for at least 10 hours a day.

The Kenyan power company says the general shortages are the result of drought, which has caused water levels to fall in the country's hydroelectric dams.

But the World Bank's representative in Kenya, Harold Wackman, has blamed government inefficiency for the power cuts.

The capital, Nairobi, and other towns and cities across the country had no power for most of Saturday night and followed the collapse of a pylon bringing electricity in from Uganda, together with a generator breakdown at the coastal port of Mombassa.

For the past few weeks, power in the capital has been rationed on a rota basis, causing domestic nightmares and chaos for industry.

The government blames the crisis on the worst drought for 100 years, but many business people say that years of mismanagement have played a big part.

The Energy Ministry has estimated the rationing could cost more than $100m a month in lost business.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 24, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ