Factors influencing accessibility of rural electrification in Kenya: a case of Naivasha constituency
The World Bank Study on the Welfare Impact of Rural Electrification (2008) spells out the importance of electricity access in rural areas. The benefits of rural electrification range from lighting, access to information, improved study environment for school children as well as improved businesses which in turn create employment opportunities and contribute to development and poverty reduction. Kenya’s ability to achieve its Vision 2030 is hinged, among other variables, on the country’s ability to increase access and supply of electricity to its population. To this end, the government established the Rural Electrification Authority to advance this agenda. Rural Electrification Authority has been operational since 2004 but despite the level of funding it receives from taxes levied on electricity consumers, access to electricity in the rural areas stands at a dismal 3.8%. This study seeks to examine the factors influencing accessibility of rural electrification in Kenya, with a specific focus on Naivasha Constituency. The study focuses influence of the performance of the Rural Electrification Authority, as the supply side of rural electrification; the influence of demand for electricity by Naivasha residents as the demand side and the role of alternative power sources. The study adopted a survey design and focused on the Rural Electrification Authority projects Naivasha. The target population was 2,159, made up of 1,670 households, 430 business community members, 20 churches, 13 public primary schools, 14 public secondary schools and 12 members of the management team of the Rural Electrification Authority. Data was collected from a sample size of 221, representing about 10% of the target population. The data was analysed using thematic and content analysis. The study found that the Rural Electrification Authority has adequate policies to facilitate its performance on the provision of rural electrification but lacks sufficient funding. The study found that monitoring is not conducted on a continuous basis and public participation was found to be lacking. The study also found that demand for electricity has been rising due to people’s ability to pay due to improved incomes generated from employment and small business enterprises. The study found that majority of the residents are aware of the alternative power sources available, e.g. solar and biogas which are relatively cheaper to install and more reliable in comparison to grid connection. The study recommends that the Rural Electrification Authority endeavours to include community participation in their projects to enhance community ownership and ensure sustainability. In addition, the Rural Electrification Authority needs to ensure they have the skills needed for community mobilisation and public relations. It is also recommended that the Rural Electrification Authority builds in continuous monitoring as an integral part of their projects and that lessons learnt are properly documented and used to inform future projects. The report also recommends that the Government supports and provides incentives for investments in alternative power sources to complement the efforts of the Rural Electrification Authority as this will not only increase accessibility to rural electrification but also promote the use of renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuelled energy.