Rising Energy Costs are Detrimental to the Green Energy Promotion.
Energy costs have been rising steadily over the last few months. The reintroduction of taxes has seen the price of gas for instance rise by almost 50% in the last 5 years or so. At one point, the 6kg gas was being refilled at about Kshs 600.
Today, the same could cost about Kshs 1350 to refill. This is a lot of money for the average Kenyan who is barely struggling to survive. These costs are poised to rise locally as soon as next month given the anticipation of fuel costs rising in the international market.
The fact that energy forms a critical part of the production processes means that its effects will continue to be felt in the rising costs of basic items and foods. The prices of basic needs have risen insanely in the recent past. For instance, soap that was costing about Kshs 100 a kg a year ago is now at about Kshs 200.
The sad part of this affair is that the wages are not by extension rising. They are stagnated. In effect, disposable income for use is reduced drastically. Well, it could be that the government is trying to regulate the amount of money in circulation to counter inflation.
This may not be the case however because we do understand that reduced expenditures on basic items and other things could severely reduce the GDP and weaken the economy. Businesses have to contend with reduced purchases because of the reduced purchasing powers of the people.
Let me use an illustration to explain this. Suppose you are paid Kshs 10000 per month. After taking care of your budget, you are left with Kshs 3000 as your savings or disposable income. Remember, this is when the prices are favorable or generally in tandem with your income so to say.
Then the prices double with time, and your pay just remains Kshs 10,000. What it means then is that you will have to prioritize the most necessary items only and you will have nothing to save or anything to call disposable income. Simply said, your purchase power is reduced immensely.
So, if you were used to using gas as your primary cooking option, you will be tempted to find cheaper options. These could include paraffin or charcoal. And these options are what the world is trying to move away from due to their environmental effects.
That is what is happening with the high gas costs, unfortunately. Some years back, I wasn’t used to seeing a lot of people buying kerosene for cooking in my locality. The sudden addition of kerosene pumps points to an increased demand for the energy option.
One of my neighbors uses charcoal for cooking a lot. I don’t know it is cheaper. Once I do my math and discover it is cheaper than kerosene and gas, I may be tempted to go that route as well. The point I am driving home is that the strides made in encouraging the transition to clean energy options in Kenya may be watered down by the unsustainable price rises.
The prices of petrol, diesel, and Kerosene have been rising and are poised to rise even further. We do agree that the government’s move to reduce electric power costs is a good one. Yet it must be reflected in reduced product prices and electricity bills. Cartels have profited long enough.
The same move should now be taken for the oil and gas sector. Yes, the prices could be volatile in the global market, but the government should have measures in place such as reducing tariffs and taxes on these products to cushion against unwarranted price increases.
The government plays a great role in protecting its citizens from bad economic environments and should be at the forefront of ensuring the safety of the citizens instead of pushing them right into the volatile market square where they may burn.
In a recent address by the cabinet secretary for energy and petroleum, Dr. Monica Juma said that our electricity generation is over 90% from renewable sources. It is interesting to hear such, but what of the oil and gas sector? The carbon emission from households, at the consumption level, is one of the greatest challenges the world over.
As long as these prices will keep rising unsustainably, biomass will be our primary energy source and as such the strides made to promote green energy sources from the household level up would have been but in vain.
We need to be working tirelessly to move away from unclean energy sources to cleaner options. We have a role to play in saving the planet yet if we are pushed to the corner, our survival overrides the desire to protect the environment as sooner or later one has to be sacrificed and of course, that can never be us.
We still have the opportunity. We can do something. Yes, I know that it is possible to work out something to cushion Kenyans from the rising energy costs. We have done something with electricity, and I know we can do something more with the other options as well.