PublicationsThe U4 Blog

U4 Brief

‘Kenyapowerless’ – Corruption in electricity as ‘problem-solving’ in Kenya’s periphery

Rising demand for electricity in the Kenyan periphery has created opportunities for corruption. Decentralised solar electricity exists, but those running a business from home using modern appliances need more energy. Desperate for access to the electrical grid, people resort to bribing public officers to get connected. Criteria for inclusion in rural electrification initiatives are unclear and leave people confused. As a result, corruption appears to be a ‘problem-solver’ in Kenya’s electricity market – a notion reinforced by corruption scandals hitting Kenya Power – the sole distributor. Development practitioners should start by focusing on the planning stages of electrification initiatives, and project implementation style, to address these challenges.

17 July 2019
Download PDF
‘Kenyapowerless’ – Corruption in electricity as ‘problem-solving’ in Kenya’s periphery

Main points

  • Rising demand for electricity in the Kenyan periphery has created opportunities for corruption.
  • Ambitious grid connection targets have given rise to ‘tenderpreneurship.’
  • Confusing electrification schemes have led to households bribing public officials and officials and private actors extracting bribes from residents.
  • The high price of decentralised solar PV systems in Kenya has resulted in illicit use of unlicensed technicians.
  • Educating the public about grid connection modalities, removing bureaucratic bottlenecks, and speeding up grid application processes, could have discouraged corruption in Kenya’s electricity market.

Cite this publication

Boamah, F. ; Williams, A. (2019) Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2019:1)

Download PDF

About the authors

Festus Boamah

Festus Boamah is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Social and Population Geography at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.

Aled Williams is a political scientist and senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute and a principal adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre. He is responsible for U4's thematic work on corruption in natural resources and energy, and holds a PhD from SOAS, University of London, on political ecology of REDD+ in Indonesia.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)