Last Mile Connectivity Transforming Livelihoods

The family of Ms. Lucy Kosein of Nairegie Enkare area in Narok East Sub County cannot hide their joy three months after the Kenya Power and Lighting Company connected their homestead to electricity.

Ms. Kosein, a single mother of five says her living standard has greatly improved as she no longer requires a tin lamp to light her house since she was connected to electricity through the Last Mile Connectivity in January this year.

Earlier we slept as early as 8.pm after the tin lamp ran out of paraffin, now I can stay awake to 11.pm listening to my favourite radio programmes, she says.

Ms. Kosein who lives with her ten-year-old grandson says her son can comfortably do his homework and that he has tremendously improved in his class work.

My mindset on electricity has since changed. We no longer hold on the belief that electricity is a reserve for the rich. This is definitely a testimony that the government is concerned about the most disadvantaged citizens, she explains.

She appreciates the government for fulfilling their promise of rural electrification as a means of improving the lives of Kenyans.

The old woman also applauded the government for transforming their livelihood by cutting down hefty paraffin costs they had to meet to have their homestead lit during the night.

My family no longer spends hundreds of shillings on paraffin, as electricity cost is much lower, she says.

Another resident Mr. Sirero Siameto who hails from Masantare area in Narok South Sub County says since the connectivity, security has been boosted in his homestead.

Cases of theft has reduced as we use security lights to light livestock sheds and homestead throughout the night. Initially we could wake up in shifts to torch the livestock sheds to ensure all the animals were safe, he said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Last Mile Connectivity Project in Narok last year where he visited the family of Mzee Pasiyian Ole Sadera in Rotian area in Narok North Sub County.

Mzee Sadera hosted the president on 12th August 2016 when their humble home was used for demonstrations of the Last Mile Connectivity project.

Narok Kenya Power Designs and Construction Officer, John Karanja said they target to connect over 6, 000 households by the end of the year through the programme.

He confirmed the government set aside Sh. 500 Million to aid the project last year and over 60 per cent of the work has been completed.

Karanja explained that Last Mile Connectivity involves extending, low voltage network to reach households within 600 metre radius from a transformer, thereby reducing the cost of accessing electricity for the customer and supply for the power provider.

He says the exercise begins with identification of beneficiaries by the Kenya Power officers in charge of implementation. We sometime identify the beneficiaries without their knowledge because our aim is to connect those who are in dire need of electricity but cannot afford the installation cost, explains Karanja.

Once the beneficiaries are identified, they are expected to provide a copy of their identification cards which is used to create them a KPLC customer account.

Karanja says though the identification process is done by the KPLC officers, applications for installation are also welcomed from the public at large.

He adds priority is given to transformers that have maximum number of people who have applied to be connected.

This means that an application of 50 people to get connected to a transformer in a particular location will be effected before an application presented by two people to be connected to another transformer in another location.

When the intended beneficiaries are identified and informed, the KPLC officers do a proposal for funding from the financiers. This is because beneficiaries pay no funds for the installation.

Karanja sighted various locations such as Suswa in Narok East constituency and Masantare in Narok South Constituency as locations with the most recent beneficiaries of the Last Mile Connectivity project.

The transformers are distributed evenly amongst the six constituencies and the installation process is effected simultaneously in all the constituencies.

Last Mile Connectivity is funded by Government of Kenya in collaboration with African Development Bank (AfDB) and implemented by Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC).

In the 1st phase, which was launched on 3rd of April, 2016 and was expected to take 18 months, the existing distribution transformers which by then stood at 5,320 nationally would be maximized to reach an estimated 314,200 households across the 47 counties.

The 2nd and 3rd phases was to see to it that transformers are installed to increase the customer connection leading to additional connection of 500,000 customers nationally thus enabling over 2.5 million Kenyans to have electricity access.

Karanja said in the second phase, an addition of 192 transformers will be installed in Narok where they will be distributed evenly in the six sub counties.

The programme has seen more productivity and creation of more jobs as thousand of youths in Kenya can now be able to engage in various income generation activities through the opportunity provided by the access to electricity.

The Last mile Connectivity uses a different approach from the one used by KPLC to connect people in the past; whereas Kenyans used to make applications with long procedures in the past, now Kenya Power and the Rural Electrification Authority will come knocking on doors asking Kenyans to allow them to connect their households to electricity.

Electricity connectivity has been a priority by the Jubilee government as it has featured in their manifesto. The government intends to connect all households with electricity by the year 2020.

Source: Kenya News Agency