Verifying claims by Kenya’s president on electrification and title deeds

Claims

Four claims about Kenyan government achievements under Kenyatta.

Source: Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta (1 June 2020)

checked

Verdict

One mostly correct, one incorrect, two unproven.

  • In an address to the nation, president Kenyatta made three claims about his administration’s successes in electrifying the country. 
  • He was incorrect about the number of schools connected to electricity since 2013, and his comments about how many households were connected in 2013 compared to 2020 could not be confirmed with the available data.
  • Kenyatta was on firmer ground regarding the issuing of title deeds, and mostly correct in his estimate of his administration’s efforts.


On 1 June 2020 a key national holiday passed in Kenya with none of the ceremony of years past. 

Madaraka Day marks the day in 1963 when Kenya achieved internal self-rule from the British, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the only official commemoration was a broadcast from State House, the official residence of the country’s leader. 

In his official speech, president Uhuru Kenyatta homed in on his administration’s record since he took office in April 2013.

We fact-checked four of his claims, three about electricity connections to schools and households, and one about the number of title deeds issued.

(Note: We also looked into his claims about his road construction record made in the same speech. You can read our findings here.)

Claim

‘We have connected 99% of all schools to electricity.’

Verdict

incorrect

Kenya’s education ministry categorises schools into three levels: pre-primary, primary and secondary.

According to a 2014 ministerial booklet, schools increased from 67,051 in 2009 to 76,005 in 2013, and 78,405 in 2014. 

In 2019, they had increased to 89,337, according to the national statistics office, which cited ministry data. 

Number of schools in Kenya (2019)
Pre-primary Primary Secondary Total
Public 28,383 23,286 8,933 60,602
Private 18,147 9,058 1,530 28,735
Total 46,530 32,344 10,463 89,337

Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

Installation shared between govt agencies

Who electrifies schools? This is a shared responsibility between the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation and state utility Kenya Power, according to energy ministry spokesperson Moses Nyandika. 

“It is the responsibility of the rural electrification corporation to electrify schools, that is to wire schools and anything that goes with it. Kenya Power comes in with the meter, connects, and then bills,” he told Africa Check.

This was the approach “anywhere” in the country, including urban areas such as the capital city Nairobi, Nyandika said. 

Before 2013, the rural electrification agency focused on secondary schools, according to its 2016-2021 strategic plan. Some 6,530 of these had been electrified by June 2013, when Kenyatta’s administration started its first full financial year.

Most primary, uncertain number of secondary schools connected

The agency then turned its focus to primary schools to support the new government’s digital learning plan. By June 2016 it had connected 8,259 secondary schools, and 22,648 of 23,401 public primary schools targeted, according to the strategic plan.  

A spokesperson for the agency told Africa Check it has connected 22,927 public primary schools. This was 98.4% of the total number of public primary schools as of 2019.

The agency also told Africa Check some 8,755 public secondary schools, polytechnics and institutions of higher learning were connected as of 2020. But it did not break down this data further to allow us to calculate what percentage of secondary schools have been electrified.

Most early childhood centers still unelectrified

For early childhood development and education centres, some 204 have been provided with electricity, the agency said. This is less than 1%, or 0.7% specifically, of the 28,383 early childhood centres captured by the national statistics office for 2020.

The president’s figure would therefore have been accurate if he were referring only to public primary schools. Before his administration, some 6,530 secondary schools had already been connected, so he cannot take credit for them.

Available data also shows at least 99% of early childhood centres are not yet connected to electricity.

Claim

‘After 78 years of colonial rule and 50 years of the independence administrations, a total of 4.5 million households were connected to electricity.’

Verdict

unproven

Kenya attained self-rule in June 1963. Fifty years after this was June 2013, two months after Kenyatta started his first term. The president was thus alluding to the electricity access achieved by previous administrations.

The number of households in 2013 was between 8.8 million and 12.1 million, according to the 2009 and 2019 censuses respectively. Using the president’s households figure, this suggests that in 2013, the national grid electricity access was somewhere between 37%and 51%.

But an access rate of 50.4% was only achieved in 2019, according to census data.

Case closed? Not exactly. There is considerable confusion in the energy sector over what qualifies as a household.

Kenya Power says it supplies power to “individual households, private industries, companies and government institutions”. In its communication on the electrification of households the utility has consistently used an average of four people in a household. 

The country’s energy policy also differentiates between households and commercial connections. 

But the country’s 2018 national electrification strategy treats the entire Kenya Power customer base as though it is the same as the number of households. Using this approach, in June 2013 the country had 2.33 million connections in total, 2.1 million of which were domestic.

That is still 2.2 million domestic connections fewer than the president’s 4.5 million figure.

Africa Check reached out to Kenya Power spokesperson Kevin Sang for clarification on how it defines a household. We will update this report with the utility’s response. We thus at present can only rate this claim as unproven.

Claim

“But from 2013, and in only 7 years of my presidency, we have connected close to 3.5 million households, bringing the number of households connected close to 8 million.”

Verdict

unproven

The country’s 2019 census found there were 12.1 million households in Kenya. Kenyatta’s figure of “close to 8 million” suggests about two-thirds of Kenyan households have electricity provided by the state. 

But the census showed access to grid electricity was 50.4% in 2019. Another 19.3% had access through solar. This is more than two-thirds, but it is not clear how much off-grid access was by the state.

What of connections? Kenyatta took office in April 2013. As of June that year, when his first full financial year began, total connections were about 2.8 million, of which 2.5 million were domestic.

Treasury data shows there were 7.2 million connections as of June 2019, but does not give a figure for domestic connections.

Kenya Power says this had risen to 7.5 million customers as of January 2020, but also does not say how many were domestic connections.

The last publicly available figure for domestic connections was 6.4 million in June 2018. 

We are yet to find data that supports the president’s estimate of “close to 8 million”.

Claim

‘But in only seven years, an additional 4.5 million title deeds have been issued under my administration.’

Verdict

mostly-correct

The lands ministry website states that 4.5 million title deeds – the same number quoted by the president – have been issued since 2013. Is this number verifiable?

Robert Gitau, lawyer and partner at Mahmoud Gitau Jillo law firm in Nairobi, told Africa Check that since the Land Registration Act of 2012, title deeds are now referred to as “certificates of title”. “Title deed was the name under the Government Lands Act and all other regimes before the Land Registration Act and the Land Act.” 

According to the registration law, certificates of title prove that the person named in the certificate owns the land.

Treasury figures show some 3,691,335 title deeds were issued in six financial years from 2013/14 to 2018/19. If we factor in the ministry’s number of 388,000 deeds for the first 10 months of the 2019/20 financial year, the total is 4.42 million, or about 60,000 short.

We thus reached out to the ministry to clarify how many title deeds have been issued. 

President’s claim close to recent estimates

Cabinet secretary Farida Karoney shared data with us which showed that from 2013 to 2017, some 3,218,170 title deeds were issued. 

(Note: In 2018 Kenya Land Alliance reported that about 3.2 million title deeds were issued in Kenya from 2013 to 2017. The not-for-profit advocates for land reform in the country. But chief executive Faith Alubbe told Africa Check only the lands ministry can confirm the number of deeds issued.

The minister’s data was broken down as follows: 

Title deeds issued in Kenya 
Year Number
First 50 yrs of independence 5,600,000
2013-2017 3,218,170
2017/18, 2018/19 financial yrs 881,396
July 2019-April 2020 388,000
Total processed since 2013 4,487,566
Total since independence  10,087,566

Source: Ministry of Lands

That means about 4.49 million title deeds have been issued since 2013, when the current administration started in office, which is similar to the figure cited by the president.

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