On an ordinary weekday evening, my siblings came back to the house late from playing. It was one of those nights when we were experiencing power outage. Being the eldest, I was preparing dinner in the kitchen as they washed before going to do their homework. My immediate follower lit a candle and put it right beside a pile of clothes he was to fold as he was looking for pajamas.
Next thing I know, he is rushing into the kitchen and going for the jug then to the water tank. In confusion, I asked what it was for. All I know is that we would not have had a house if he used the jug of water he wanted to fetch to put out that fire. I took a blanket off the bed and threw it over the growing furnace, suffocating it repeatedly and eventually putting it off.
Luckily, this was my experience on a day when we only had a power outage. There are homes in Kenya that have gone up in flames and down to ashes because there was an unattended candle that toppled over, a kerosene lamp caught a flammable garment in the house, people dozed off and left them burning and so on. Families have perished in houses where they were victims of fires that started out as unattended open flames.
The risk of fire is only one among many others that can be reduced when the populace gains access to electricity connectivity through the Last Mile Connectivity Project, a programme by the Government of Kenya. Funded by the Government of Kenya, the European Union funding and African Development Bank (AfDB), Kenya Power (KPLC) is delivering this project for the country to reach universal rates of electrification.
Last Mile will connect all the 47 counties in Kenya as part of the governments’ support of its initiative to ensure increased electricity access to Kenyans. This Rural Electrification project is a journey towards achieving affordable and clean energy which is one of our Sustainable Development Goals.
Well into its third year of implementation, the project has covered over 300,000 households and moved on over into the second phase which will extend to connect new customers estimated to be more than 500,000 households in the peri-urban and rural locations.
This programme has made it possible for all to be able to get connected to electricity regardless of social class. The funding has helped in slashing the connection fee by half, now standing at 15000 KES. This amount can be paid in installments over 36 months starting at 416 KES per month or all at once depending on one’s ability.
For most people outside of the major cities in Kenya, life stops at sunset. The little that is left to do is done in a hurry before the lamp runs out of kerosene or the candle burns out. The quality of life lived when you are forced to sleep early and wake up late cannot be compared to that of those who are able to extend their time and make use of the extra hours thanks to electricity.
Electricity connectivity, in the rural areas especially, will improve the quality of life which in turn plays a critical role in poverty suppression. Economically, there will be extended hours for trade and various job and business opportunities will arise.
Wealth and income generation will become a reality for many in the rural areas where it will be possible to work and live around their homes. Most people come to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, in search of employment opportunities.
Good jobs in the city are few and the job market even more competitive. The few jobs available leave no option for people to work for under a dollar a day. Such situations to living in deplorable areas which is under their means in order to able to at least provide for their families.
With development in rural areas, people can choose to stay home than move to the already overpopulated urban areas with high costs of living. Being connected to electricity will power business ideas making them realities. In addition to that, electrification brings security which reduces the crime rate.
Lighting up the country through the Last Mile project thanks to #EUinMyregion will ease lives; lift burdens through making work easier without forgetting beautification of the countryside.