In Summary
  • Kenya Power has misled consumers on the price of electricity and engaged in unconscionable conduct.
  • I predict that many small-scale businesses will shutdown because they simply will not be able to afford the higher electricity costs.

On January 12, in a class action suit filed by lawyer Apollo Mboya and the Electricity Consumer Society of Kenya, the High Court ordered Kenya Power to cease issuing inflated bills to consumers.

I was thrilled with this ruling. My household had just received an electricity bill that was more than double what we normally pay per month, and so we hoped that the bill for the following month would be adjusted according to the court order and that we might even get a refund.

Little did we know that, two weeks later, we would be receiving another bill that was even higher than the previous one — in fact, more than three times what we normally pay.

Upon closer inspection, I found that about one-third of this bill was going towards paying for a fuel levy and taxes.

The fuel levy (a new tax that did not appear in previous bills) alone amounted to about a quarter of the bill.

I am not alone. The #switchoffkplc campaign started by Mboya on social media generated hundreds of responses from disgruntled consumers who have been saddled with inflated bills that are not just unfair, but border on the criminal.

However, it seems that the inflated bills are not applied to every consumer. Some consumers are paying what they have always paid.

Kenya Power tried to explain this discrepancy by saying that since it shifted to a new electronic billing system some bills may have been inadvertently inflated.

If they have identified the problem, why haven’t they fixed it?

Kenya Power says that the cost of electricity has gone up because the company has to recover Sh8.1 billion that it used to buy expensive diesel generators last year.

This is like a landlord telling a tenant that the rent has doubled because he put up a new roof — without warning the tenant that they would have to incur the cost of the roof and without giving adequate notice to allow them to look for alternative housing.

As the lawyers in the class action suit argued, Kenya Power has misled consumers on the price of electricity and engaged in unconscionable conduct.

To make matters worse, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which just five years ago declared that Kenya had a robust economy, is now pushing for a VAT levy on petroleum products.

That will make the cost of energy, including electricity, prohibitive.

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