Kenya: Household Energy Demand and Use

This country synthesis report is based on a detailed country report, which may be accessed through our dynamic report builder is available here.


A Household Energy Demand and Use
B Household Energy Supply
C Household Energy Sector Governace
D Household Energy Information

A. Household energy demand and use

A.1 introduction

Kenya is a very diverse country, in terms of geography, income levels and cultural groups. Depending on income levels, households may cook between 1 and 4 meals per day, although the typical number is 3. Staple foods such as maize and beans can take up to 4 hours to cook, while tea, chapatis, etc., can be prepared much more quickly.

A.2 cooking

Around 90% of rural low-income homes rely on wood for cooking, mostly using 3-stone open fires, with a minority using improved stoves such as the Upesi (typically without chimneys). Where wood is scarce, dung and crop residues are also used. The second most important cooking fuel is charcoal, burned in ceramic or metal jiko stoves, but around 80% of charcoal produced is utilised in urban centres. Although kerosene is available very widely and used for some cooking tasks mostly on wick stoves, it is not typically a primary cooking fuel. LPG and electricity are used for cooking mainly by high income groups, although 8% of urban and 1% of rural low-income households are reported to have access to LPG (most of which is used for cooking). Coal is not available as a household fuel in Kenya.

A.3 Space heating

Space heating is required mainly in the highland areas, particularly in the evenings and in the winter months (July - August are coolest). For most households, wood used for cooking doubles as a heating fuel. Charcoal is also used in jiko stoves for heating, predominantly in the urban areas.

A.4 Hot water

Hot water for domestic use is heated mainly with wood and charcoal, with some use of kerosene. LPG and electricity are in general too expensive for all but the higher-income groups.

A.5 lighting

As an equatorial country where it is dark by around 6.30pm everyday, there is considerable demand for lighting throughout the year. A variety of fuels are used: while many will to some extent use light from the open fire, most low-income homes rely on kerosene in simple wick lamps (around 95% of rural homes are reported to have access to kerosene, around 90% of whom use this fuel for lighting), with some use of candles. Grid electricity is available to around 13% of Kenyan homes - 45% of urban but only 3.1% of rural homes - so makes little contribution to lighting in low-income rural areas.

A.6 Refrigeration and space cooling

For low-income groups, the use of refrigeration and air conditioning are very low. Where these technologies are used, electricity is the main power source.

A.7 Communications and entertainment services

Apart from dry cell (battery) use - which is widespread for radios - almost 10% of the population use lead-acid batteries for TV and radios, but the cost and availability of charging facilities limits this considerably in rural areas. As noted, grid electricity is available to only 3.1% of rural homes.

A.8 Household appliances

Other than electrically powered appliances (radio, TV, music centres, refrigerators, etc.,) which are covered in other sections, the main fuels used in home appliances by low-income families are charcoal and dung for tasks such as ironing.

A.9 Energy for micro-enterprises

Common local micro-enterprises utilise mainly wood (bakeries, restaurants/kiosks, tobacco curing, brick making, fish drying), charcoal (bakeries, restaurants/kiosks), and diesel (corn mills, milk processing, fishing boats). Where available, grid electricity is used for milk processing, corn mills and restaurants.

A.10 Summary and conclusions

There is a wide diversity of energy sources available in Kenya, and these are used for a similar wide diversity of applications. However, the actual patterns of use by low-income households are very constrained by poverty and supply. In rural homes wood, supplemented by dung and crop residues, are overwhelmingly the most important energy sources for cooking, space heating (where/when required), heating water, and for some important micro-enterprises. Charcoal takes on this role in urban areas due to the difficulties of transporting wood into the cities, although wood is also used in urban homes. Kerosene use is widespread, especially for lighting. Access to grid electricity is still very restricted for low-income groups, especially rural, which effectively rules out this modern energy source even for lighting although nearly half of urban homes do have access. LPG use is similarly restricted to higher income groups. Other power sources such as photo-voltaic (PV) solar have made relatively small contributions so far.

Last edited by Miriam Hansen , based on work by Grant Ballard-Tremeer .
Page last modified on Sunday 19 of September, 2010 17:37:32 GMT. @HEDON: RADB

Continents » Africa » Kenya
  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

Latest News

No records to display

Upcoming Events

No records to display

Show php error messages