Continents »  Africa »  Kenya
Kenya: Household Energy Supply

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

B. Household energy supply

B.1 introduction

From Section A it can be appreciated that wood and charcoal are the household fuels used most by low income groups, so issues of supply and sustainability from forests are critical. Kerosene is the most important fossil fuel, and with no oil reserves, Kenya needs to import oil (also for LPG, diesel, etc.) using foreign currency. Electricity is generated by hydro-electric power and fossil fuel (mainly diesel).

B.2 Wood

Kenya has a large potential for fuel wood, but in practice this is restricted by land ownership, environmental factors, transport, etc., so that there is a large deficit of supply in almost all areas of the country totalling more than 20 million tonnes per year in 2000. Only about 17% of the estimated 4 million homes using wood purchase all of it, with around 76% of collecting it with no payment (around 7% purchase some and collect some free), an important disincentive for these households to move to cleaner and more efficient commercial fuels. Most homes still use open 3-stone fires or some variant on this, although there has been significant uptake of improved ceramic stoves in some parts of the country. Open fires have a very low efficiency of 10% at best, while ceramic stoves may achieve 30% efficiency (percentage of heat utilised). A World Bank study has indicated that the Kenya Ceramic Jiko has a penetration level of about 50% throughout the country and is very popular among urban households. Each home uses on average around 3 tonnes of wood per year, some 4.1 million toe for the country. Where purchased, the cost is approximately 1000 KSh/- per tonne - equivalent to 36 Euro/toe. Prices may exceed 100 Euro/toe when wood is scarce.

B.3 Crop residues / dung

Both of these fuels are bulky and have low energy content. As a result, they are used mostly in rural areas when wood is in short supply. The 1.3 million households estimated to be using these fuels burn them in the same types of stoves as for wood, and use 1.5 to 2.2 tonnes per year. Neither fuel is commercially supplied. Total use per year is estimated at 1.1 million toe.

B.4 Charcoal

Charcoal is relatively compact and light, and has high energy content. As a result it is easy to transport and popular among low to middle-income homes in urban areas. Production from forests around the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu is having a significant negative impact on the environment in these areas. Over 90% of users purchase this fuel, the remainder produce their own. Charcoal is burned in a variety of stoves including the Kenya Ceramic Jiko, and metal stoves (all without flues). A total of around 2.8 million homes are estimated to use some 730,000 tonnes per year (540,200 toe), at a cost of 8-12 KSh/- per kilogram (116 Euro/toe in Nakuru to 175 Euro/toe in Nairobi and Kajiado).

B.5 Coal

As noted above, there is no domestic use of coal in Kenya.

B.6 Kerosene

Almost all homes in Kenya (95%), some 5.9 million households, use kerosene and 82% of the population are reported to use this fuel for lighting. It is burned in wick stoves mainly (some pressure stoves) for cooking, and in wick lamps (some pressure lamps) for lighting. Kerosene is distributed through petrol stations (mainly urban), then through re-sellers to rural and urban residential areas. A decline in the use of kerosene is reported, from 406,000 tonnes in 1999 to 384,000 in 2000, probably as a result of price increases. Urban household use is estimated at 90 litres/year, rural at 41 litres/year, with total consumption of 286,000 toe/year. The cost of kerosene is around 35 KSh/- per litre (range Ksh. 35 and Ksh 37 per litre in 2003), equivalent to 517 Euro/toe. Marked price differentials between urban and rural areas have been reported, from 10% to up to 300% higher in rural areas, which impacts particularly on the rural poor.


The use of LPG is growing quite rapidly in Kenya from a very low base, with recent increases of 6% per year in urban areas. Distribution outlets and mechanisms have expanded, including petrol stations, supermarkets and other agencies/distributors. Recently, Baby Meko (3 kg) and Nova (4 kg) bottles have become available, which together with savings and credit facilities, are increasing access for low-income families in urban and some rural areas. Nevertheless, use is still predominantly among the better off, with only 19,000 users in total and only 11% of clients using the 3 kg bottles. Total use is estimated to be 33,300 toe/year. The cost components for LPG use are the bottle (around 2100 KSh/- for an empty 6 kg bottle), refilling the bottle with LPG (500-530 KSh/- for 6kg; 6.4-6.8 Euro), and the cooker (which can include a 1 or 2 ring burner, grill, and oven. A set consisting of an empty 3kg bottle, grill and burner is selling for KSh/- 2230 (Euro 28.5). Refill prices of LPG in 12 kg bottles range between 1070 and 1170 Euro/toe.

B.8 Electricity

Around 600,000 household use electricity, the great majority in urban areas. Estimated consumption is 1,280 kWh per household per year. Power generation liberalised, although the state owned Kengen is main generator. Total installed power generating capacity is around 1200 MW, of which hydro contributed 71%, oil 22%, and geo-thermal the rest. A simple electric cooker costs in the region of 27-53 Euro, while electricity cost 7.5 Euro per kWh.

B.9 Summary and conclusions

The majority of low-incomes homes in Kenya use wood or charcoal, of which 4.09 million and 540,200 toe respectively are used annually. Throughout the country there is a deficit of sustainable fuel wood supply, while the high demand for wood from charcoal production has an important environmental impact. The majority of wood used by households is collected, not bought, which has (at least short-term) economic implications for any transition to commercial fuels. In contrast to the situation for wood, almost all charcoal is purchased. Around 1 million toe of dung and crop residue is used per year - for the same purposes as wood and mostly when the latter is in short supply - and all of this occurs outside of the commercial sector. Kerosene is distributed very widely, with some 286,000 toe used per year. LPG use is increasing in urban areas, and to some extent for low-income households with the introduction of small bottles, wider (de-regulated?) distribution and some credit support - but with only 19,000 homes using some 33,300 toe annually, this remains a minority use fuel and still predominantly for the better-off. Electricity is also predominantly used in urban areas, and even where accessed by the poor would not be used much for cooking.

Cost comparisons are complicated by the fact that most wood and all dung & crop residue is collected rather than purchased, and because kerosene - and LPG appliances in particular - are far more fuel efficient that simple open wood fires (both the combustion efficiency and heat transfer). Hence, the energy available for cooking and other uses from one toe of these fuels (especially LPG) is considerably more than from one toe of wood burned in a 3-stone fire. However, taking the market prices, wood is the cheapest form of energy (36 Euro/toe, considerably more when scarce) followed by charcoal (116-175 Euro/toe), kerosene (500 Euro/toe, marked up in rural areas) with LPG the most expensive (1070-1170 Euro/toe for 12kg bottle refills).
Last edited by Miriam Hansen .
Page last modified on Sunday September 19, 2010 17:38:36 GMT.
  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

Upcoming Events

No records to display