Kenya Power risks irrelevance if it does not innovate

Last year, the Presidential Task Force on the review of Power Purchasing Agreements recommended that Kenya Power — declared a ‘special Government Project’ — slash electricity costs by 33 percent effective December 2021, as part of efforts to attract foreign direct investments and promote industrial growth. Although the first 15 percent reduction in power cost was realised, there is silence over the second phase for a further 15 percent cut in electricity tariffs.

It is because of false promises like this that many are looking to alternative energy sources, to get away from the unending cycle of high bills and power fluctuations that have come to characterize Kenya Power.

More than this, it is Government patronage that has shielded Kenya Power from competition and therefore innovation, and which might lead the power company to suffer the same fate as Kodak, a one-time world leader in technology with products and services in commercial print, packaging, manufacturing and entertainment, and the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KP&TC).

These two are world’s best examples of how not to catch up with rapidly evolving technology and the consequences they suffered should serve as warning shots to any company, private or limited, that is keen on surviving changing times. 

Kodak, for instance, failed to learn that its long held strategy, which was at some point a rainmaker, had for far too long turned a blind spot to new technology, becoming obsolete in the world’s rapidly changing new order. The company’s managers stuck with the outdated film cameras as the others in the industry shifted to digital.

KP&TC, on the other hand, failed to seize the opportunity at the advent of Internet disruption in telecommunication. Had the managers at the giant State corporation been alert enough, KP&TC would have crossed the rubicon with mobile telephony long before Safaricom set foot on Kenyan soil. 

Failed distribution systems, arising especially from faulty transformers, is a crisis that has caused the utility company’s customers untold suffering. The substandard transformers keep exploding all over the country and Kenya Power often takes ages to respond. Power surges are also a menace, more often than not resulting in destruction of customers’ domestic and commercial electric appliances.

Kenya Power’s biggest let down however, is the metering system, which has been turned into an indiscriminate cash cow by the company’s fraudulent employees, with devastating consequences on customers.

Subdued and without recourse, the suffering by the masses is unbearable. Just what happened to the massive movement of metering from postpaid to prepaid, which had seemed to deal a blow to the fraudulent meter reading at KP?

KP is what Kodak, KP&TC, and Eveready Batteries ever were before technology swallowed them. With ever-growing alternatives in power technology particularly in solar energy, it is just a matter of time. The company would be well advised to improve its service delivery and rein in the metering fraud that continues to flourish unabated. 

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