Kenyan consumers are staring at high power bills from an unlikely source – solar power plants (they meant to be the cheapest).
Already, and in questionable circumstances, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has reportedly licensed 4 plants each producing 40MW. 3 firms are located in Eldoret and 1 in Malindi.
The 4 firms are owned by individuals around the first and second families in Kenya.
With clear breach in public procurement laws, the firms were sourced without competition. There was no expression of interest floated by ERC.
While global trends have seen massive reduction in price of solar power stands at an average of 8.2 US cents per Kilowatt per hour, Kenyan shenanigans are charging 12US cents per kilowatt per hour.
Interestingly, the influential men want ERC to approve them to supply the national grid for 20 years - at the same rate. That would force consumer to pay exorbitant prices, for long.
Ideally, such unsolicited bids would only have been approved after energy auctions or for short renewable periods of say 1 to 2 years.
The renewable energy target for Kenya is 3000MW. Solar target constitutes 1500MW.
The glaring question remains: How does Kenya government offer capacity to solar providers without competition?
Since the bids for the 4 plants were unsolicited without competition, it is the deal makers and other cartels who will be winners. Consumers will finance the scam.
The solar energy scam is a wake up call for Kenyan consumers to rise and oppose the corrupt scheme.
It is hoped the ERC will shed light on this unfolding development that has the making of a key scandal - that will weigh heavily on consumers.