Kenya hit by nationwide power outage


Kenyan businesses were left reeling yesterday when the country was hit with the worst power outage since 2000, lasting for several hours before, very gradually, electricity supply was restored.

Political pundits immediately raised the question if foul play was involved in this major incident, which will cost the business community hundreds of millions of Kenya Shillings in damages and lost revenues.

Only days ago had Kenya Power, almost in a ‘in your face’ announcement shocked Kenyans when the company said it would halt new connections, ostensibly in reaction to Deputy President Ruto a week earlier denying Kenya Power an increase in tariffs. Such claims will no doubt be investigated swiftly, and the top brass of Kenya Power can brace themselves for a major political and society backlash, already ‘enjoying’ a reputation from which the bottom seems to have dropped out. KP shelved the current uniform connection fee and will only, according to a source from Nairobi, resume connections when allowed to charge cost recovery based fees, expected to be substantially greater than the present fee.

Business associations as well as consumer protection organizations immediately denounced the long outage with befitting words over the cost impact of the grid failure, which forced businesses as well as all the country’s airports into using their backup generators. Port operations in Mombasa were grounded as were many of the country’s hospitals, few of which have generators and fewer which can afford to buy the expensive fuel to keep the engines running for extended hours. City hoteliers and resorts along the Kenya coast too complained as they were also forced to run generators to keep aircondition and refrigeration units running.

Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association chairperson Mohammed Hersi, who is also the Regional Manager for Sarova Hotels, in charge of the 5 star Whitesands Resort and Spa and the Taita Hills and Salt Lick lodges, tweeted his upset over the incident as follows:

1. NTV Kenya @ntvkenya9h

NATIONWIDE POWER #blackout disrupts business as #KenyaPower blames technical hitch on the grid; says addressing the matter

Retweeted by Mohammed Hersi.


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2. Mohammed Hersi.@hersimohammed9h

#ConnectedKe conf getting ruined by lack of power. @KenyaPower technicians get arrested by council guys for repairing lines without a permit

Tourists in hotels and restaurants were left wondering what happened when the power went just around 2 p.m. as many were still having their lunch, and speculated, together with the staff serving them, what had befallen the country, only to learn later on of a nationwide outage.

The new government of President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to react sharpishly and take action against the state owned, monopolist power distributor to show that inefficiencies and incompetence will no longer be tolerated. Meanwhile has Kenya Power and its management been sufficiently ridiculed in the social media through comments made on Twitter and Facebook, enough to have their ears ring for the rest of the year.

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