By Alex Kamau Wa Ikui
The news that large customers who account for 54% of Kenya Powers revenue are abandoning the company in droves by installing solar is very welcome news.
On the one hard it shows that corruption ultimately consumes those stubborn to imagine they are immune and impermeable to its cancerous toxicity.
It also illustrates clearly the dangers of state monopolies. Monopolies are bad for customers, competitors, governments and society in general. It is why many countries pass laws to curtail them.
Successive governments have used patronage to appoint largely incompetent but politically correct individuals to head this most lucrative of Parastatals. Staff take the cue from senior managers and the lethargy of Kenya Power employees especially those fixing power cuts illustrate correctly what happens when an organization imagines customers are subordinate to its arrogance.
That 57 years after independence we are still talking about blackouts is a national humiliation. Ours is a country gifted with natural energy resources such as geothermal, wind and hydro power capabilities. Without corruption the market would act to ensure steady and reliable supply so that Kenyans are not enslaved to intermittent supply of a commodity that in civilized societies is nearly a basic need. In the event, our country has some of the most expensive energy, making our production and manufacturing costs very uncompetitive.
Ordinary Kenyans who can afford need to invest in and install solar power and free themselves from the painful and extortionate shackles of the inefficient Kenya Power. That is the only language the corrupt cartels running these state institutions would understand.
I remind Kenyans of a company that used to be called Kenya Posts and Telecommunications. They held the monopoly for installing telephones and owned a network of red call boxes that were non functional half the time. It’s employees were gifted with bewitching arrogance. Well, Mobile telephony castrated this arrogance and wiped them off the face of Kenya.
The death of Kenya Power may be the sacrificial calf needed to bring sanity and efficiency to our country’s electricity market. It’s a company whose death few will reminisce.