An Evaluation of rural electrification adoption dynamics in Meru-south sub-county, Tharaka-nithi county, Kenya
Kageni, Mbaka Charity
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Electricity services are crucial for human well-being and to a country‘s socio-economic development. Despite its importance, low levels of electricity adoption and use continue to prevail in most rural areas in SSA. Low socio-economic development has been attributed among others factors, to lack of modern energy sources especially electricity among households, which has been identified as a major setback in propelling empowerment and development at household and community level. There is minimal or no research conducted to understand the socio-economic dynamics of electricity adoption among households in Meru-South Sub-County. The objective of this study was therefore to analyse and identify determinants of electricity adoption, assess the socio-economic benefits and challenges of electricity adoption, assess the effect of rural electrification on development of public facilities and examine spatial distribution of electricity adopters, non-adopters and transformers in Meru-South Sub-County. To achieve these, household interviews were conducted from 150 randomly selected households using closed and opened ended questionnaire. In-depth interview guide was used to collect information from two Rural Electrification officials, two from Kenya Power and two local administration officers. A GPS set was used to geo-code adopter, non-adopter and transformer points. Data collected was statistically analyzed using descriptive statistics. Chi-square and t-test were used to test the magnitude of the association between dependent and independent variables. Logistic regression was used to predict the socio-economic factors influencing electricity adoption in households using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) programme version 19.0. Data from GPS sets was organized into a compatible file and imported into ArCGIS 10.2 to generate maps. Results showed that 36% and 64% of the respondents in the study area were electricity adopters and non-adopters respectively. Possible predictor factors that significantly influenced adoption were found to be distance from the transformer (p=0.000), education status (p=0.020), gender (p=0.045), household size (p=0.009), and income (p=0.011). Besides low electricity adoption, electricity benefits and potentials among the adopters including improved quality of life through lighting (100%) and businesses (38.8%) among others were revealed. Results revealed a significant difference (p<0.05) in quality of service provision in electrified and non-electrified schools, hospitals, market centers and factories. Results indicated the greatest prior challenges to electricity connection were accessibility (proximity of the transformer) and cost of connection. The transformers were revealed to be in the upper and middle areas compared to lower areas. Adopters were mainly in upper zones while non-adopters were distributed in lower and upper zones. The findings indicate that electricity was not extensively used for income generating services. These results indicate need for promotion of productive uses of electricity in Meru-South which can increase the productivity at household and community levels. This study provides a guide during planning for rural electrification in order to increase electricity adoption and enhancing use for income generating activities.