By Brian Okoth
Fuel prices in Kenya have reached a historic high, crossing the 200 Kenyan shilling ($1.36) mark for the first time.
The country’s energy regulator, EPRA, announced new prices on Thursday evening in its monthly review.
The new prices will remain in place between September 15 and October 14, when another price adjustment will be made.
In the coastal city of Mombasa, which has a major port that receives imported crude oil, a litre of petrol will cost 208.58 Kenyan shillings ($1.42), while diesel will go for Ksh197.93 ($1.35). Kerosene, on the other hand, will retail at Ksh199.54 ($1.36).
A litre of petrol in the capital Nairobi will now retail at Ksh211.64 ($1.44), while diesel will cost Ksh200.99 ($1.37) and kerosene Ksh202.61 ($1.38).
The fuel prices charged in Nairobi are almost identical with the cost of the commodity in the lakeside city of Kisumu.
In Mandera County, which is more than 1,000 kilometres northeast of Nairobi, and is on the border with both Somalia and Ethiopia, a litre of petrol will sell for Ksh225.64 ($1.54), diesel Ksh214.99 ($1.46) and kerosene Ksh216.61 ($1.48).
The county, which historically posts the highest fuel prices in Kenya, has once again registered unprecedented charges on fuel following the latest review.
Other counties where fuel will retail at over Ksh220 ($1.50) are Marsabit, Wajir and Turkana. All these counties are in northern Kenya, many kilometres from the country’s capital.
Relatively sharp hike
Compared with last month’s prices, a litre of petrol in the East African nation has gone up by Ksh16 ($0.11), diesel Ksh21.32 ($0.15) and kerosene Ksh33.13 ($0.23).
In many previous reviews, the month-on-month adjustments would rarely have a difference of more than Ksh10 ($0.07).
“The average landed cost of imported super petrol increased by 4.80% from $739.21 per cubic metre in July 2023 to $774.67 per cubic metre in August 2023,” the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) said in a statement, explaining the consequent rise in retail prices.
“Diesel increased by 12.52% from $701.99 per cubic metre to $789.89 per cubic metre, while kerosene increased by 19.79% from $690.58 per cubic metre to $827.26 per cubic metre,” EPRA said.
The high cost of fuel has also been attributed to the recently revised Value Added Tax (VAT) on petroleum products – from 8% to 16%.
Kenyan President William Ruto, who turned a year old in office on Wednesday, removed subsidy on fuel upon taking power in September 2022.
His predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, had introduced the subsidy programme in October 2021 to cushion Kenyans against a high cost of living.
While justifying his decision to remove the relief scheme, Ruto said that Kenya was incurring heavy debts to sustain the programme, which was “benefiting a few people, yet Kenyans were still experiencing a high cost of living.”
In August 2023, in a bid to prevent the prices of fuel from crossing the Ksh200 mark ($1.36 mark), Ruto temporarily reintroduced the fuel subsidy, a move that Kenyan press termed a “U-turn” on the president’s firm stand on subsidies.
The latest review marks the first time fuel prices in Kenya have gone beyond the Ksh200 ($1.36) mark.
Kenyans took to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday to express their concern over the high cost of fuel.
Twitter user Ja Loka said: “It doesn’t matter which political side you belong (to), there is no need to burden hustlers more. This is unacceptable.” Hustler is used colloquially in Kenya to mean a low income earner.
Eliud Busolo said: “What government do we have here? Even without the opposition calling for protests, we would willingly take to the streets (to protest the high cost of fuel).”
A section of Kenyans feel disappointed with Ruto because he had promised to lower the cost of basic commodities and make life “more bearable” for the citizens.
A video of Ruto, during campaigns in the run-up to the August 9, 2022 polls, is now being circulated on X to suggest that he has reneged on his promises after securing election victory.
“The government is raising the price of fuel products day and night. I want to tell you that these people do not understand the damage they are doing to the people and the economy of Kenya because of these taxes that they are hiking haphazardly,” Ruto said during a political rally in the western Kenya county of Nyamira in June 2022.
“Please, when you see us addressing you here today, we are asking you to elect us so that we form a government that understands the common citizen’s language.”
On Thursday, President Ruto’s economic adviser David Ndii said that the high fuel costs in the country were as a result of oil price shocks, which “are very normal.”
He further said that the economic pain Kenyans were experiencing was as a result of “abuse of credit for a decade.” He blamed former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.
“I told you two years ago that Kenya was in receivership. Nothing has changed,” he said on X.
The opposition, led by veteran politician Raila Odinga, who ran against Ruto in the 2022 presidential election, recently mounted weekly protests to push the government to scrap higher taxes and reduce the cost of fuel.
The protests, which ended in tens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, have since been suspended to allow the government engage in talks with the opposition with the aim of reaching consensus on the contentious issues.
Two sides – one from government and the other from the opposition – are continuing with the discussions, which are being held in Nairobi.