The Heat Is Online

Drought Threatens Kenya's Electric Supply

Kenya drought forces electricity cutbacks

The Boston Globe, Associated Press, May 24, 2000

NAIROBI - With a rain shortage drying up lakes that power hydroelectric dams, Kenya announced stringent power-rationing yesterday with 12-hour cuts, six days a week.

Manufacturers say that existing rationing already is destroying the shrinking industrial base in this East African nation of 29 million and that further reductions will only make things worse.

Beginning Monday, all domestic users will experience power cuts from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., manufacturers from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Energy Minister Francis Masakhalia said.

Kenyans are worried that the 12-hour power cuts will cause an array of problems, everything from food spoiling without refrigeration to employers being forced to lay off staff.

''Arrangements have been made to ensure that essential services are not interrupted,'' Masakhalia said at a news conference.

He said police patrols will be substantially increased in industrial areas to ensure security during the shutdowns.

The Kenya Power and Lighting Co., a partially government-owned monopoly that distributes power generated by the recently split-off Kenya Electricity Generating Co., introduced six-hour, three-day-a-week power cuts in September.

The rationing will not apply in the central business district of the capital, Nairobi, where most government offices are located.

This story ran on page A23 of the Boston Globe on 5/24/2000.