Johannesburg – Darkness reigned across much of Kenya on Sunday evening as the country was rocked by its third nationwide power outage in as many months. The blackout began before 8pm local time on Sunday, with large outages still being reported across the country on Monday morning. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, a major regional hub, had two of its terminals down for several hours on Sunday evening.

Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen visited the airport and said he would “make a formal request to the National Police Service to investigate possible acts of sabotage and cover-up.”

In a statement shared on social media, national utility Kenya Power said its grid was in a “stable condition” and a “sudden demand for energy” had led to a “cascade of power outages resulting in widespread blackouts.” It did not say what might be behind the sudden increase in demand.

Kenyan Energy Minister Davis Chirchir said the overnight outage was caused by power line congestion and said “planned minimum load shedding” would be implemented in areas with high electricity consumption.

Load shedding is the scheduled, alternating switching off of power to various areas for several hours per day in order to relieve the strain on the national power grid.

A 2015 file photo shows a utility pole carrying wires for power distribution in Nairobi, Kenya. Siegfried Modola/REUTERS

After a similar blackout in November, it took workers 12 hours to restore power in many parts of the country.

The worst power outage in the country’s history occurred on August 25, when power was out for almost 24 hours. Kenya Power blamed the outage on one of the largest wind farms feeding the grid, but the wind farm’s operators pointed the finger at the national utility. The cause remains unknown.

At the time of the August power outage, Murkomen promised that there would never be another power outage at Nairobi Airport, which he described as a facility of strategic national interest.

Since taking office in September 2022, President William Ruto has increased taxes and cut fuel subsidies in Kenya.

During the overnight power outage, many Kenyans took to social media to lament high fuel prices as the cause of millions of dollars in losses for businesses in the country.

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