Q: What is the Last Mile Connectivity Programme?
A: The Last Mile Project is a government of Kenya programme that is aimed at facilitating the objective of affordable connection of Kenyan households to the national network grid. This is geared toward achieving a 70 per cent connectivity by 2017 as part of the universal access goal to electricity by 2020.
Q: What does the project involve?
A: The project has various component spread out in the next three years. The first phase is the maximisation phase where it involves connecting unconnected households lying within 600 metres of the earmarked transformers. It will involve extending the low voltage networks and a service cable to reach these households. This phase will cover 318,000 households or 1.5 million Kenyans. The second and third phases will involve maximisation of additional transformers, installing new transformers and extending the low voltage network to connect more Kenyans. Under these phases we target to connect 500,000 households hence adding 2.5 million Kenyans to the national grid.
Q: When will the project start and how will it be implemented?
A: The first phase started in April where we invited only local contractors to bid for the project work. The bids were arranged in 11 lots, 10 bids for works and one bid for supply of prepaid meters. We received a total of 110 bids and expect to finalise their evaluation by the early July. Once the evaluation is completed, we will seek a “no objection” clearance from the AfDB (Africa Development Bank) as the main financier. The tenders will then be awarded by the end of July and signing of contracts is expected to be done by August leading up to the planned commencement in September.
Q: So far, what preparation are you making towards project implementation?
A: Currently we have advertise bids for local contractors which are undergoing evaluation.
Q: How is the programme funded?
A: Phase one of the project has jointly been funded by government of Kenya and African Development Bank to the tune of Sh13.5 billion. The World Bank under International Development Assistance (IDA) has complemented this programme by granting a further amount of $150 million. Negotiations are at an advanced stage on funding for phases two and three.
Q: How much are the beneficiaries of the project expected to pay?
A: The beneficiaries of the project will pay a contribution fee of Sh15,000. We are calling it a contribution in the sense that the total cost of connection is slightly higher but luckily the amount above this contribution is covered under the funding provided by the government and AfDB.
Allow me to indicate that all the beneficiaries under this scheme will be connected whether they have the money or not. For those able to raise the Sh5,000 they will pay and for those not able to pay at the time of connection, we will still connect them and they will pay the contribution fee within two years. This will translate to Sh625 per month and it will be loaded to their monthly bill.
Q: There are applicants who paid the initial connection fees of Sh34,000. How will they be treated?
A: All those who paid Sh34,000 and are within 600 metres of the identified transformers will be charged the contribution fee of Sh15,000. The outstanding balance will go toward the payment of their bills.
Q: What are the focus areas where the project be carried out?
A: The identified 5,320 transformers targeted in the first phase have been selected from all the 47 counties. The selection criteria are based on government’s policy that aims to address equity in terms of access. This means that priorities have been given to counties with low penetration to provide equitable access to as many Kenyans as possible.The selection was also based on real data from Kenya Power regions regarding the potential to connect additional households within 600 meters of the existing distribution transformers. Counties with fewer households accessing electricity will have more of their transformers covered.
Given that this is phase one of the project, I wish to request Kenyans to be patient as we intend to cover the country in due course. We will grow the network organically by maximising the existing 40,000 transformers spread across the country. Our goal is to ensure we attain a 70 per cent electricity connectivity by 2017. Currently we are at 40 per cent.
Q: How has the transformers been distributed across the counties?
A: The number of transformers to be maximised will be distributed across the various constituencies in a county. The distribution per constituency will be based on the government criterion for resource allocation for instance the Constituency Development Fund since the project itself is a government initiative.
Q: How will the project be carried out in relation to other ongoing projects such as the ones under the government Rural Electrification Programme.
A: Households within 600 meters of transformers installed by Rural Electrification Authority in their projects to connect all public facilities will also be connected under the Last Mile Project at a cost of Sh15, 000. The potential customers will also be allowed to pay the connection fee alongside their monthly bills for a period of two years. The projects will be carried out alongside each other since they are complementary.
Q: What will happen to potential customers who will not fall under the identified transformers?
Given that this is a phased project, we intend to cover all those within our currently existing 40,000 transformers. And as we implement this projects we will be installing more transformers hence within three years we will have literally covered everyone. All we are asking is patience and understanding. It’s a very intensive work involving expanding both the high voltage and low voltage network but I want to assure Kenyans we are equal to the task and we will implement it within the shortest time possible.
Allow me to say that even as we roll out the Last Mile Project, we are still undertaking our normal connectivity programmes which we do at cost.
Q: That brings me to the issue of some applicants having quotations as high as Sh300,000 or above
A: When our customers come to apply we provide a quotation of connection at cost. This means we quote for all materials required for connection. Some will be slightly high, others within the range or some even below the average of Sh 34,000 based on the actual costs of all materials required to connect them.