NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Much of Kenya awoke Saturday morning to find it was still without electricity after an unexplained power outage Friday night shut down the country’s main international airport and led to a rare public apology by a government minister. Major hospitals and even the president’s office compound were affected.
“I am really sorry for what has happened,” transport minister Kipchumba Murkomen said in a statement close to midnight. “There is no excuse worth reporting and there is no reason why our airport is in darkness.”
This latest outage affecting much of the country comes just weeks before Kenya’s government hosts the first Africa Climate Summit, where energy will be key on the agenda. Kenya gets almost all its energy from renewable sources, but infrastructure and alleged mismanagement remain an issue in the country of more than 50 million people.
The majority government-owned Kenya Power announced in a brief statement a “system disturbance leading to loss of bulk power supply” to parts of the country just before 10 p.m. Friday. Shortly after midnight, it reported that power had been restored to the Mt. Kenya region, a longtime political stronghold, and added that initial reports indicated a fault in a generation plant.
Around 3 a.m., Kenya Power said power had been restored to the international airport in the capital, Nairobi, and other “critical areas” in the capital region.
However, three of Nairobi’s largest hospitals – and its State House, the site of President William Ruto’s office – told The Associated Press they were still using generators hours after Kenya Power’s assertion.
The power outage approached the 12-hour mark Saturday. Calls to Kenya Power’s communications department did not go through.
Tourism is an important part of Kenya’s economy, and stranded travelers quickly posted images on social media of the darkened airport. The Kenya Airports Authority said a generator serving the main terminal had failed to start after the national power outage.
Meanwhile, Kenyans already coping with rising costs of living woke up to find food spoiling and some backup power options running out.
The most recent national power outage was in May.
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