Discussions with some community members at Talek township in Narok County in February 2019 illustrated some of the challenges that both local and GMG operators face. Talek is a community dependent on electricity from a privately-operated mini-grid in Kenya and its solar-diesel mini-grid is a $280,000 pilot project funded by GIZ – the German development agency.
The plant was handed over to the Narok county government in 2016 which then contracted PowerGen, a Nairobi-based private company, to run it. The local community acknowledges that, although the project is well-intended, the delivery of the services after the donor handover has been challenging for three key reasons.
First, the reliability and quality of the electricity being supplied has been poor which can be attributed to two factors: the focus on connecting more consumers to the system and the inability of the system to accommodate the new energy demands that economic growth, associated with energy access, has created.
Second, consumers have found it hard to get their complaints resolved. Some of the issues that have emerged range from not having an on-site technician in the event of a connection fault to not having a phone number to call if a problem arises.
Third, the price of the electricity generated from the mini-grid is very high when compared to those connected to the central grid. Consumers in Talek have paid $1.04 kilowatt per hour – which is about seven times the price that consumers connected to the central grid pay.
It is important to pay more attention to the operational challenges that mini-grid users might face after they are commissioned – which need to be addressed from the outset. This is crucial to ensuring the sustainability of energy access initiatives in places where energy needs are greatest.
Read full article: CCE Online News