Kenya Power is urging local manufacturers to participate in the supply of materials for the implementation of the multi-billion-shilling Last Mile Connectivity Project, the company’s managing director and CEO, Ben Chumo, has said.
In a tender invitation advertised last week, Kenya Power announced the Government had received financing from the African Development Bank to commence implementation of the Last Mile project, which aims at connecting 284,200 residential customers and 30,000 commercial customers to the electricity network.
“We hope that a high percentage of the materials to be procured will be sourced locally. Kenya Power has a strong desire to have manufacturers investing locally to cut on long lead times involved in buying goods from abroad, as well as create local business opportunities,” said Dr Chumo.
He revealed the company spends close to 80 per cent of its annual procurement budget, which amounted to Sh6.2 billion last year, on materials procured overseas, mainly from India and China.
He said the electricity distributor depends on overseas suppliers for materials, ranging from major power equipment, such as transformers, electric cables, metering solutions, insulators and electricity management systems, to accessories, such as cut-outs, fuses and circuit breakers.
“In support of the Government’s ‘Buy Kenyan Build Kenya’ plan, Kenya Power now procures its electricity poles [wooden and concrete] locally. It is a departure from the past when most of these were procured from countries like South Africa and Tanzania,” said Chumo.
“This move has seen more than 40 local companies get involved in the treatment of wooden poles and production of concrete poles.” Besides a ready market in East and Central Africa, he added, demand for these items is expected to rise as the country accelerates the rate of connectivity to over 70 per cent in the short term.
“We are also undertaking major power upgrade projects countrywide, and also implementing slum electrification and street lighting programmes on behalf of the Government,” Chumo said.
“These will require a lot of materials. Investors willing to set up manufacturing plants in Kenya for these materials stand to gain significantly now and in the foreseeable future.”