The Last Mile Connectivity Project in Kenya has been granted US$133 million by the African Development Bank to achieve its objective of expanding electricity access to remote communities in the region.

This decision was made by the board of directors of the AfDB who are in full support of the project’s initiative, to take full advantage of the 35 000 existing distribution transformers installed by the Kenya Power and Lighting Company across the region, the AfDB said in a statement.

The project will officially be launched in March 2015 and is estimated to cost US$147 million. Government will pay the balance of US$14 million, AfDB said in a statement.

The initiative is supporting the Government’s ‘Energy Access Scale-Up Program’ which is designed to give underprivileged Kenyan communities access to sustainable and efficient power supply.

The distribution transformers will be pushed to their optimal capacity by stretching low voltage networks to residents residing nearby to where the transformers are situated, a statement said.

The project comprises of three main elements:

  1. Construction of the distribution network (including installation of energy meters)
  2. Project supervision and management
  3. Capacity-building activities (Skills training for operation and maintenance)

Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department acknowledged the importance of this project for the overall socio and economic development of the country.

In addition to impeding economic growth, Kenyans’ low level of access to electricity is provoking environmental degradation. Rural residents without electricity are forced to consume biomass, including fuel-wood for cooking and lighting. As a result, there is ongoing deforestation in many areas. This project will increase access to modern reliable and affordable energy supply which will in turn encourage Kenya’s transition to green growth’, Rugamba said in a statement.

With a low national electricity access sitting at 32 percent, this project has an estimated 314 000 beneficiaries which will significantly uplift the overall wellbeing and living standards of these communities, AfDB said in a statement. These improvements will have a positive effect on business growth and expansion which will create a competitive market for price and expand product access.

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl has been working in the African power, energy and water sectors since 2011, first with African Utility Week and now as the Editor of ESI Africa. She is also an Advisory Board member of the Global and African Power & Energy Elites publications. With her passion for sustainable business and placing African countries on the international stage, Nicolette takes a keen interest in current affairs and technology trends.