Business 7.8.2016 09:11 am

Businesses in Kenya lose billions in national electricity blackout

FILE PICTURE: Power lines. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

FILE PICTURE: Power lines. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

Salon owner Njeri Mwangi said she had lost a full day’s business despite the fact that the electricity supply was restored in the afternoon.

Businesses in Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya have suffered losses running into millions of US dollars after a countrywide electricity blackout engulfed Kenya on Saturday.

Although the actual figure in losses is yet to be calculated, it is estimated to be billions of Kenyan shillings, going by similar incidents in the past.

Kenya’s sole electricity provider, Kenya Power, put out a brief notice through their social media platforms announcing the nationwide blackout long after citizens had complained about the blackout and its consequences.

Kenya Power attributed the blackout to a “technical hitch” on the country’s main supply line, the Olkaria Nairobi 220KV line. They said technical teams were working to normalise the situation and restore supply to customers.

Kenya Power did not provide further details and apologised for the “inconveniences caused”. It took almost eight hours before power was restored but for many businesses the damage was already done in terms of loss of the day’s earnings. Businesses most affected were those that rely solely on electricity to operate, such as hair salons, eateries, milk dispensers, butcheries, and laundries.

Salon owner Njeri Mwangi said she had lost a full day’s business despite the fact that the electricity supply was restored in the afternoon.

She told African News Agency that, being a Saturday, the majority of her clients normally visited the salon in the early morning before heading out to social events such as weddings and parties.

“The only thing I could do today [Saturday] during the blackout was to style client’s hair, do some make-up, and file and polish their nails. Those are small jobs which do not bring in as much money as the other hair jobs. So yes, I lost a lot today,” said Njeri.

Fresh milk and dairy products trader Nancy Kangethe said she relied on her diesel generator to keep her business running.

“When I invested in this business I knew I would have to invest in a generator. Milk and other dairy products are highly perishable and I knew I could never rely totally on Kenya Power. So I can say I am lucky because I planned for days like today when we have blackout.”

Power blackouts and rationing (load shedding) are a frequent phenomenon in Kenya with Kenya Power having a monopoly over power supply in the country.

Kenya Power owns and operates most of the electricity transmission and distribution systems in the country and sells electricity to just over 4.8 million customers – as at June 2016. The Kenyan government has a controlling stake of 50.1% with private investors holding 49.9%.

Kenya Power is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and its shares were trading at Ksh8.30 each at the close of business on Friday.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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