The Sh6.42 billion power project for rural areas will begin this month, the Rural Electrification Authority has said.
REA is targeting 16 counties where 591 public facilities and 35,460 households will be connected.
The project is funded by a $63.465 million (Sh6.42 billion) loan from the Arab Bank for Economic Development, Abu Dhabi Bank for Development, Saudi Fund for Development, OPEC Fund for Development and the Kenyan government.
REA chief executive Ng’ang’a Munyu said the project is targeting five blocs: the Nyanza-Western, North Rift, South Rift, Mt Kenya, upper and lower Eastern, and Coast.
“So far we have already awarded contracts to five contractors for each of the five regions, and now we are doing the mobilisation,” Munyu said. “Nothing has started yet but we are in the process of initiating the project.”
He was speaking during the launch of the authority’s five-year strategic plan on Friday.
Munyu said the authority is currently undertaking another 55 megawatt solar power project to boost power in rural areas.
“There are two ways you can look at electrification in the rural areas. In terms of coverage of consumers, nationally we can say we have covered about 30 to 40 per cent. But in terms of public facilities, we have covered about 70 per cent,” Munyu said.
The solar project, in the outskirts of Garissa town, will be financed by the China Exim Bank through a soft loan to the Kenyan government.
“Right now they are clearing the bush, so generally what we are saying is that work has started and the contractor will take around one year to finish the job,” Munyu said.
The project is estimated to cost Sh13.8 billion, and will provide cheaper renewable energy to consumers in the rural areas and boost the national grid which generates 2,400 megawatts.
In its five-year strategic plan, REA intends to spend Sh208 billion to increase power connections in rural areas.
The government has connected 3.3 million households to electricity since 2013, from 2.3 million to 5.5 million as at December 30, 2016, representing a 131 per cent growth.
Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said the country’s electricity access rate is now 60 per cent as at December 2016, up from 27 per cent in 2013, a 122 per cent increase.