Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has bowed to pressure and revoked her appointments at the Rural Electrification and Energy Corporation (Rerec) Board to include nominees from the Council of Governors (CoG).
Dr Juma has appointed four CoG nominees as directors in the agency after Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said her previous actions breached the law.
Mr Kariuki directed Dr Juma to revoke for the second time an April 20 Kenya Gazette notice that appointed six Rerec Board directors.
The minister through the May 17 Kenya Gazette notice revoked the hiring of three of the six directors and tapped four from devolved governments including Ms Mary Mwiti, the CoG chief executive.
The AG had asked Dr Juma to make fresh board appointments in consultation with county bosses to avoid litigation.
“The appointment of Mr Samson Maundu, Mr Henry Rono and Mr Hassan Mohamud Haji is revoked,” the notice says.
The Energy Act of 2019 allows the Cabinet Secretary to appoint three directors and four from governors’ council.
Dr Juma on April 14 appointed the six directors to serve at the agency for three years, based on the moribund Energy Act of 2006.
She revoked the April 14 notice and named the six through the April 20 notice using the Energy Act of 2019, drawing protests from governors.
“It is our advice that the ministry should revoke the fresh gazette notice that purports to make appointments that should be made by the council,” Mr Kihara says in a May 6 letter to Dr Juma.
“This will avert unnecessary litigation while ensuring that the corporation has a functional board without undue delay,” he adds in the letter copied to Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
Governors had sought to be enjoined in an ongoing court case.
Dr Juma has been sued for ignoring the CoG nominees and using a defunct Energy Act, which gave her the right to appoint eight of the 11 Rerec Board members.
Mr Martin Njoroge, an activist, argues in the suit that the Cabinet Secretary used a law that was repealed in 2019 to hire the six directors.
The decision to lock out the CoG nominees strengthened Dr Juma’s hand in the control of the Rerec Board, which is now dominated by her appointees.
According to the Energy Act of 2019, Rerec should have a 10-member board, with its chief executive serving as secretary.
The 10 include a chairperson named by the President, the Principal Secretaries of the National Treasury and the Energy ministries, three members hired by the Cabinet Secretary and four individuals from the CoG.
The role of governors on the Rerec Board is the product of changes to the 2019 Energy Act, which widened the mandate of the agency to include working with county governments to expand electricity connection, fundraising, research and development of a masterplan for the country’s renewable energy.
The state agency is partnering with devolved governments and the National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) to boost rural electrification.
Under the deal, devolved governments and the NG-CDFs are to meet half the cost of taking power to rural areas, with Rerec contributing the balance.
The programme is meant to deepen electricity supply to rural homes and shopping centres, especially in arid and semi-arid regions.
Rerec returned a surplus of Sh7.2 billion in the financial year to June, according to National Treasury estimates.
The agency says it has accelerated rural electrification projects, moving Kenya closer to the ambitious goal of universal electricity access.