On Tuesday, Kenya’s state-owned power company, Kenya Power, released a statement calling for transformer suppliers that will be required to adhere to new guidelines as the utility acts to curb transformer vandalism and improve the quality of power supply.

"The new specifications are envisioned to increase durability of transformers while making them less attractive to vandals," the utility explained.

The utility said that 222 transformers were vandalised last year resulting in a Sh86 million ($849,256)  loss to company, compared to 268 transformers vandalised in the previous year, costing Sh100 million ($987,507).

"From July to date, 33 transformers have been vandalised, compared to 50 in the same period last year," Kenya Power said in a statement.

Transformer vandalism gets attention

The power company explained: "Under the new guidelines, transformers will contain aluminum windings, as opposed to copper which is attractive to vandals. The requirement is expected to control the quality of transformers while at the same time prevent vandalism.

"Suppliers will also be required to provide a list of critical raw materials and their sources in order to ease traceability of parts and control the quality of the equipment."

The company added: "In addition, the guidelines require that a supplier provides a warranty of six years and five years from the date of delivery and commissioning respectively.

"This will help reduce transformer failure rates and compel manufacturers to take responsibility for any manufacturing defects."

Kenya Power’s Managing Director and CEO Dr Ben Chumo, said: “This is one of deliberate steps being undertaken by the company to ensure that we offer the best service to our customers. In the past, the challenge of vandalism has adversely affected our business thus calling for innovative ways of tackling that problem."

Chumo added that “by requiring transformer manufacturers to reveal their source of raw materials, the company will be in a position to avoid low standard equipment that could compromise the efficiency of the network”.

Transformer developments

According to the utility these requirements are expected to contribute to improving the quality of power supply by reducing outages resulting from vandalism.

Recently, Kenya Power also signed a MoU with Toshiba Transmission & Distribution Systems (India) Private Limited (TTDI), subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation, for pilot installation and trial of new type of transformers with the aim of enhancing efficiency and helping to significantly reduce distribution losses.

Internal analysis by Kenya Power shows that cases of transformer vandalism have been on a decline, helped by constant surveillance on the network, enhanced penalties and jail terms for vandals and deployment of other innovative measures to track down the vice.