Consumption of electricity has dropped by 129.5 million units which represents 13.2% last month as covid-19 pandemic hits consumer demands while forcing many firms and industries to significantly reduce their operations.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) said electricity consumption went down from 978.1 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in March to 848.6 million kWh in the month of April—the lowest ever use in 32 months.
The drop is attributed to reduced consumption by industrial and commercial users, who account for 70 percent of Kenya Power unit sales.
But EPRA pointed out that consumption of electricity by domestic customers has gone up as many employers increasingly ask their staff to work from home to stem the spread of the virus.
“Electricity demand is expected to be lower compared to last year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” EPRA said in a statement.
Power consumption is always an indicator of the number of electrical equipment plugged into the national grid which includes industrial machine hence pointing to economic output.
It can also be due to increased use of home appliances such as TV sets, microwaves and refrigerators that have been increasingly in use since the State instructed people to stay at home and shun public gatherings.
The consumption data tallies with the Market Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)—which tracks business performance in the manufacturing and services sector which went down to 34.8 in April from 49.0 in February.
Readings above 50.0 indicate growth in business and the latest data is of the record low of 34.4 reported in October 2017 after the general elections.
The consumption in April passed the lowest level of 842.8 million kWh reported in August 2017before August 8 presidential election which coincided with reduced economic activity.
Kenya has recorded 912 positive cases of Covid-19 and 50 deaths, and the government’s orders restricting movements, the nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew, closure of bars and schools to curb further spread are still on meaning the the rate of consumption is still expected to remain low.
Social distancing rule and the closure of bars and restaurants has impacted on consumer spending and now kenyans are staring at job cuts and reduced cash flow.
Vimal Shah, the chairman of Bidco Africa, a giant manufacturer of consumer goods said the overall demand had softened due to the closure of hotels, restaurants and catering establishments but there is increased demand for essentials such as foodstuffs, sanitiser and soap.
The drop in power consumption is set to delay the turnaround of Kenya Power which reported its worst profit in 16 years last year.
Kenya Power’s net profit plunged 92 percent from Sh3.26 billion to Sh262 million in the year to June — the lowest profit since it returned to making profits in 2004 after posting Sh2.89 billion loss in 2003.