An Assessment of the challenges affecting electricity transmission network expansion in Kenya; a case study of KETRACO
Sitienei, Lydia Chelagat
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Electricity remains a key economic driver in promoting economic activities such as manufacturing and trade. The Kenyan government in late 2008 introduced KETRACO, as a company with the sole mandate of planning, designing, building, operating and maintaining the national electricity transmission grid in the country. Since its inception, when compared to the planned 16,000km grid expansion, only 1,800km has been achieved by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (KETRACO). It is on this merit that the study sought to assess the challenges affecting electricity transmission network expansion in Kenya, the emerging trends and the possible solutions to the challenges thereof. The study adopted an exploratory research design with the targeted population being the stakeholders in the energy sector in Kenya who include KETRACO, the Ministry of Energy, the National Treasury, Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC), and the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). Purposive sampling was used where 103 respondents were chosen based on their knowledge and experience on electricity transmission and power management. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data which was analysed through mixed analysis methods. Documents review guide enabled collection of secondary data from sectoral plans and official documents within the Energy Sector. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics while qualitative data was analysed using content analysis. The study concludes that all the three challenges namely implementation capacity, right of way acquisition and vandalism negatively affect electricity transmission expansion efforts of KETRACO. The study underscores a need for an integrated plan of action within the sector and enhanced training of personnel with regard to specific skills relating to transmission. The study recommends allocation of adequate financial resources by the government especially for operation and maintenance while citing the importance of developing a community engagement plan for the areas along which the transmission line passes and the need to leverage on technology to reduce the land space needed for right of way acquisition. Use of the already existing government reserves alongside other public infrastructures such as roads networks, water and sewerage infrastructure, railways among others could be considered to reduce wayleave acquisition challenges. The researcher also recommends further research on use of technologies such as monopoles as opposed to lattice towers to reduce the negative effects of the right of way and underscores the need for research on the materials used in the construction of transmission towers to assist KETRACO in identifying safer materials and technology that could deter vandalism.