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Kenya’s budget speech: Do claims about power, investment & roads add up?

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Kenya’s budget speech: Do claims about power, investment & roads add up?

10th April 2017

By: Africa Check

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As the keeper of Kenya’s public purse, cabinet secretary Henry Rotich explained to the National Assembly on 30 March how the hundreds of billions in Kenya’s 2017/18 budget will be disbursed.

He also reviewed how past allocations, especially to the road network and power supply, helped the overall economic picture.

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Africa Check investigated the veracity of his most important claims.

Claim: “In 4 years, we have connected more Kenyans to the grid than in all years since independence.”
Verdict: incorrect

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Rotich prefaced his claim by saying that “more than 5.2-million Kenyans have been connected to electricity compared to 2.3 million in 2013”.

This would mean that 2.9 million customers were connected under the Jubilee government, contradicting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s figure of 3.7-million new connections in his State of the Nation speech 2 weeks prior.

National treasury’s spokesman Maina Kigaga told Africa Check the information had been collated from data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the national power utility company, Kenya Power, as well as the ministry of energy.

Kenya Power data shows that in the last financial year of the coalition government (2012/13), 2,330,962 customers were connected to the power grid, confirming Rotich’s figure for 2013.

The latest data available shows that Kenya Power had connected 4,890,373 customers by the end of June 2016. When the head of Kenya Power, Ben Chumo, left the company 6 months later, he claimed that the customer base had increased to 5.5-million. (Note: These figures were echoed by energy cabinet secretary Charles Keter in a brief two days later.)

Kenya Power insisted that it had met its connectivity targets, despite media reports that nearly a million of these new connections were inactive, explaining that they had so far inspected 204,474 units.

To add to the lack of clarity, the ministry of energy shared a status update the day after Rotich’s speech, stating that 5.7 million Kenyans had been connected to date.

That said, even the last official figure of 4.89-million would confirm Rotich’s conclusion that the Jubilee administration had “connected more Kenyans to the grid than in all years since independence”, given that 2.6-million customers were connected during their term, on top of the existing 2.3-million.

But the claim – to have connected more people than all previous governments since independence — is not exclusively the Jubilee administration’s to make.

When President Mwai Kibaki was elected in December 2002 for his first term, 593,621 customers were served by the national grid, rising to the 2,330,962 customers in 2012/13 at the end of Kibaki’s second term, in which he shared power with Raila Odinga. The coalition government could as well have claimed that they had connected “more Kenyans to the grid than in all years since independence”.

Claim: “Today, more than 2,282 MW of power is available on the national grid compared to the 1,664 MW available 3 years ago.”

Verdict: incorrect

Three years ago (at the end of June 2014), Kenya’s installed capacity stood at 1,885 MW, the annual report of the Energy Regulatory Commission shows. At that time the effective capacity, which is the energy available on the grid, was 1,804 MW.

Rotich’s first figure is therefore incorrect.

By the middle of 2016, the installed capacity had risen to 2,341 MW before decreasing slightly to 2,327 MW in January 2017, a brief from the ministry of energy showed. This was because of a drop in water levels at 8 hydropower plants, Minister Charles Keter said.

By the time Rotich made his speech, figures provided by Kenya Power spokesman Kevin Sang showed that Kenya’s installed capacity had recovered slightly to 2,333 MW while the effective capacity stood at 2,254 MW.

Rotich’s second figure, that the national grid has “more than 2,282 MW” available, is therefore also incorrect.

Researched by Alphonce Shiundu, Africa Check a non-partisan organisation which promotes accuracy in public debate and the media. Twitter @AfricaCheck and www.africacheck.org

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