Kenya Power has commenced a pilot project to install special utility poles [Smart Poles] that will support the provision of high-speed internet connectivity as part of its revenue diversification strategy.
Kenya Power’s Managing Director & CEO, Dr. [Eng.] Joseph Siror said, “The Smart Poles will provide an alternative way to deploy the last mile data networks using wireless technologies, thus providing a solution to telecom service providers to improve data coverage and capacity, as well as address the challenge of signal dropouts.”
The move comes amid increased demand for the internet which has put pressure on telecommunications service providers to expand last-mile data networks.
The pilot project is currently being undertaken in partnership with Safaricom at six locations within Nairobi. Once the pilot phase is completed, Kenya Power will install smart poles within its overhead network, which telecom service providers will lease to mount their wireless transmission equipment.
“The Company has put in place a strategy that lays a firm foundation for growth in the next century. We will leverage innovative and sustainable solutions to ensure that we have a smart grid in place in order to tap into the new growth frontiers while at the same time offering excellent service to our customers,” said Dr. [Eng.] Siror.
He was speaking today during the opening session of the inaugural Kenya Power Grid Conference. The forum has brought together engineers to discuss challenges facing the grid and innovative solutions that can be deployed to enhance system efficiency, and the capacity of the grid to adequately serve customers and guarantee better performance for the Company.
“Apart from the pilot for smart poles, the Company is also in discussion with the Ministry of ICT to develop a framework through which we will play a critical role in the realization of the Government’s digital economy agenda. With our wide network and fiber capacity, we intend to provide infrastructure for internet connectivity targeting public institutions such as schools and hospitals at a favourable cost,” said Dr. [Eng.] Siror.
Apart from revenue diversification, the smart poles project and the partnership with the Ministry of ICT will offer valuable lessons for the Company in its quest to fully automate the grid.
At the moment, the Company’s substations are connected to the regional control centers through System Control and Data Acquisition [SCADA] system to enhance equipment monitoring and control.
Automation of the medium voltage line switches within the Nairobi region was completed during the last financial year with a total of 710 automated switches and 26 auto-reclosers installed, to enhance system operation flexibility in the Nairobi metropolitan counties of Kajiado, Kiambu, and Machakos.
Additionally, the Company has completed the implementation of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure [AMI] project to protect revenue from large and medium customers who account for more than 80% of the total electricity sales.
Through the AMI project, a total of 67,000 smart meters were installed in SMEs premises and six- meter data control centers were established to enhance the visibility and monitoring of the smart meters. The AMI project has recorded a growth in sales by more than 8% because of enhanced accuracy in meter readings, prompt billing, and reduced energy pilferage.