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Kenya calls for affordable electricity in Africa

Jun 24, 2008 - Xinhua

The Kenyan government on Tuesday urged stakeholders in power generation and distribution to come up with quick solutions to the challenge of ensuring that many people in Africa have access to electricity at affordable prices. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said that this issue is urgent given the fact that in a continent with a population of about 800 million people or 13 percent of the world's population, the consumption of electricity remains at a minimal 3 percent of the global commercial energy.

Speaking when he officially opened the 16th Congress of the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa underway in Nairobi, Kibaki regretted that in the rural areas,where majority of the people live, the power coverage is estimated at about 4 percent of the population.

"I am therefore happy to see that you have chosen 'the realization of access to electricity for all our people,' as the theme of this Congress," he said.

Kibaki said although there were many factors behind overall low productivity in Africa, the limited access to electricity was a serious constraint to economic growth and expansion, noting that in the majority of African nations, the access to electricity is low, averaging about 10 percent.

He said that the International Energy Agency forecasts that about 584 million Africans will be without electricity by the year 2030, noting that this situation should serve as a wake-up call to the leadership on the continent to be more aggressive and innovative when it comes to rural electrification

He called upon the delegates attending the conference to formulate strategies to enable African countries to expand access to commercial energy usage in line with global standards.

Kibaki added that there was urgent need for governments, development partners, investors and stakeholders in production, transmission and distribution of electricity to come together and devise the most cost-effective and efficient way of achieving this goal.

He urged the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa, who comprises experts in the energy sector, to take the lead in addressing the challenges facing the continent.

Citing the lack of good governance as a contributor to the low performance of the power sector, the president noted that many governments on the continent have implemented restructuring measures to entrench good governance in the national power sectors.

"This is important because accountability, efficiency, transparency and integrity are key to the viability of any investments in the energy sector," the president said.

He appealed to the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa members to strengthen and reinforce the assets they are entrusted with so as to ensure efficient production of clean power.

"This can be achieved if the utilities develop and utilize human resource expertise effectively and entrench good governance practices in all their operations," Kibaki said. The president further called for a deliberate drive towards increasing power generation capacities.

Kibaki, however, said the implementation of capital investments in power generation should be undertaken within a framework that emphasizes cost-efficiency so as to generate enough power to electrify the rural areas which have in the past been neglected.

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