That kerosene consumption has fallen to a 13-year low is welcome news given that the fuel is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from respiratory diseases across the country.
The health system has been paying a steep price for these illnesses, not counting the hours that the patients spend waiting for treatment. The Sh18 levy per litre introduced in September 2018 to stop adulteration of diesel using kerosene appears to be the magic pill that the country needed to reduce kerosene consumption.
However, these gains risked being reversed unless the government prescribes another pill to give paraffin users, mostly poor households, an alternative cheap fuel. There was an attempt to provide a solution through a cooking gas subsidy programme but nothing much has come of it yet after concerns were raised about the safety of gas cylinders arising from the high number of counterfeit products in the market. We hope that this challenge can be resolved.
Cooking gas, like electricity, is a crucial product to national development and increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness in terms of fuel used to prepare meals both domestically and commercially. As such, some level of price regulation is needed to ensure that poor households are cushioned from price fluctuations. The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Commission should therefore do more to enhance use of these cleaner sources of energy by making them both accessible and affordable to a wide cross-section of consumers especially in rural areas and poor urban neighbourhoods.