Kenya Power traces its history from 1875 when Seyyied Barghash, the Sultan of Zanzibar, acquired a generator to light his palace and nearby streets. This generator was acquired in 1908 by Harrali Esmailjee Jeevanjee, a Mombasa-based merchant, leading to the formation of the Mombasa Electric Power and Lighting Company whose mandate was to provide electricity to the island. In the same year Engineer Clement Hirtzel was granted the exclusive right to supply Nairobi city with electricity. This led to the formation of the Nairobi Power and Lighting Syndicate. (Wiki)

Here is the story of how it all unfolded and literally lit up East Africa, narrated in the “Industry in East Africa magazine”.. Published by the United Africa Press Ltd, Nairobi..


- kilowatts & progress..

Arriving in East Africa in 1931 to take up the duties of General Manager of the Dar es Salaam and District Electric Supply Company, Mr. Small became General Manager of the East African Power and Light­ing Company Limited in 1938, Managing Director in 1943, and Chairman in 1957. He retired from the post of Managing Director at the end of 1962, but remains Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Small piloted the company through many difficult phases to its present state of development.


Mr. Wyatt took over as managing director of the EAPL at the beginn­ing of this year. He first came to East Africa in 1939 as mains engineer of Tanesco, Tanga. After two years as Engineer in Charge, Eldoret, from 1943 to 1945, and then as assistant to Mr. Small in Nairobi, Mr. Wyatt was appointed Manager of Tanesco, Dar es Salaam. He returned to Nairobi in 1950 as Personal Assistant to Mr. Small, and became Manager of the Nairobi Branch in 1953. In late 1957 Mr. Wyatt was appointed general manager and chief executive of the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, which had been running at a loss since its inception in 1950. When Mr. Wyatt left Nigeria in 1962 the Corporation’s profit was £2,000,000 per annum.

The East African Power & Lighting Company Limited was formed in 1922. Greatly to its credit, the company has kept pace with East Africa’s growing demand for electricity through the years, apart from a difficult period during, and shortly after, the war when the universal shortage of new equipment affected local supply. Happily the situation soon imp roved, and with the installation of additional power stations throughout East Africa and the harnessing of available water resources the E. A. P. L. was enabled to expand its services to meet the industrial needs of fast growing population.

The first public electricity supply was provided in Kenya by the Nairobi Electric Light and Power Company in 1908. Kenya, then known as British East Africa, was a sparsely populated and very primitive country, md the usual source of light outside Nairobi village was the kerosene lantern.


The East African Power and Lighting Company Ltd., formed in 1922, took over the assets of the Nairobi and Mombasa Supply Companies.

One of the first tasks was to put in hand a hydro- electric scheme at Ndula, on the Thika River, construction commencing in 1923. The two 1,000 kW turbine alternators are still in use(1962-3). At the same time a 750 kW diesel power station was built at Shimanzi, Mombasa.

In 1925 the company appointed as technical advisors a London firm of construction engineers, Balfour Beatty and Company Ltd., who have been closely associated in all development projects from that date.

Additions to the Nairobi and Mombasa Supply took place in 1929, and in 1931 Nakuru, which is now the chief farming centre of Kenya, received its first public supply. At the same time work commenced on a hydro-electric scheme on a hydro-electric  scheme on the Maragua River, Fort Hall, the 4,000 kW plant being so sited that any development of the adjacent falls on the Tana River could be met by extension of the station, 10,400 kW of plant being added in 1933. Further installations followed at Mombasa in 1932, and at Eldoret in 1933. Kisumu and Kitale were supplied in 1948.

 A hydro scheme which utilises the waters of the Maragua and Mathioya Rivers in one power station—by bringing water from Mathioya to the Maragua Station through a 3.5 mile tunnel—was completed in , 1954. This scheme, named Wanjii after the Kikuyu Chief of that name, added 7,400 kilowatts to the Nairobi 'supply.

The 132 kV line between Nairobi and the Owen Falls hydro-electric station in Uganda was completed in 1957. This line is over 300 miles in length, the longest of its kind in East Africa.

Other developments include a 22,700 kW thermal power station in Nairobi, of which gas turbines, installed in 1954, generate 5,000 kW—the first commercial gas turbines to be installed in any power station in the British Commonwealth. At Mombasa, plant producing 5,000 kW was taken into service in 1961, a further 12,500 kW being commissioned in 1962.


During the year 1932 the directors of the E.A.P. & L. Co. Ltd. negotiated the purchase of the Tanganyika Electric Supply Company Limited, which supplied the Tanga area, and which company also had a controlling interest in the Dar-es- Salaam & District Electric Supply Company Limited, supplying Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Tabora and Kigoma. Construction of a new power station at Dar- es- Salaam was immediately put in hand, and work commenced on re-constructing and converting the whole distribution system from DC to AC.

Work on a hydro-electric scheme at Pangani Falls, near Tanga, was commenced in 1935. Subsequently a 33,000 volt overhead line was built connecting the Pangani station with Mombasa.

Mwanza was supplied in 1936, Moshi in 1937, Arusha in 1943, Mbeya and lringa in 1951, and work was then well ahead for supplies to Lindi, Morogoro and Mtwara.



Licences were granted to the company in 1936 to supply Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja, and supplies were available in Kampala and Jinja in 1938.

Prior to the outbreak of war in 1939 the E.A.P.L. had made investigations concerning the prospects of hydro schemes on the river Nile, but commencement of hostilities delayed the start of construction work. At the end of the war the Uganda Government informed the E.A.P. & L. Co. Ltd. of its intention to acquire the company’s assets in Uganda.


From humble beginnings the E.A.P.L. group of companies—which include the East African Power and Lighting Company Limited, The Tanganyika Electric Supply Company Limited, Power Properties Limited and the Kenya Power Company Limited—has grown into the present vigorous industrial enterprise which serves the public and industries of Kenya and Tanganyika. Far-sighted planning and preparation has resulted in supply matching demand.

Fixed assets in 1922 were valued at £140,000. At the end of 1961 they stood at over £19,000,000.


In the Great Rift Valley the company has explored the possibilities of bringing into use the geo-thermal steam found in the area. Plans are prepared for a hydro-electric scheme at Seven Forks, which would give Kenya a completely independent electric power supply.

The E.A.P.L. record can fairly be considered one of progress and achievement.


When did Electricity Come to Nairobi?

by Christine Nicholls | Oct 23, 2017 | Christine Nicholls |


In order to supply electricity for lighting and power in the district of Nairobi, the Nairobi Electric Power and Lighting Company Limited, with a capital of £30,000, was founded in February 1906. Its originator was Clement HA Hirtzel (misspelt Hertzel in most sources), who had arrived in East Africa from South Africa in January 1904. Described as ‘a penniless counter-jumper from the Cape’ by McGregor-Ross, Hirtzel had actually been born in Exeter and had obtained engineering qualifications. He also had a motor car and motor cycle business in Nairobi, where he lived at Parklands, and he obtained a farm at Limuru. He was awarded an OBE and became a freeman of the city of Exeter, to which he later retired.