His Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas) shop in Kitengela on the outskirts of Nairobi has been a beehive of activity lately.


George Ngugi has been selling up to eight cylinders of various sizes of the commodity in a day, up from one or two some months.
Consumption has been growing steadily as cost falls following a drop in fuel prices that are at a three-year low.
The trader is currently selling a 13kg cylinder of cooking gas at 26 dollars, down from 31 dollars over three months ago.
A 6kg cylinder, on the other hand, is being sold at 13 dollars from over 15 dollars some months back.
“The low prices have made both consumers and traders happy. I hope the status quo remains for the coming many months so that our businesses can grow. High cost of the commodity hurts consumers and us,” said Ngugi on Saturday.
The rise in the trader’s sales shows an increase in consumption as more Kenyans abandon kerosene, charcoal and firewood, among other biomass sources of energy, to embrace the clean fuel.
Consumption of the commodity in the East African nation, according to new data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), is at a three-year high.
Kenyans have been consuming an average of 5,000 metric tonnes (MT) of the commodity a month, but this has now risen to 8,000MT as prices slump.
The last time Kenyans consumed 8,000MT of cooking gas was in the last quarter of 2012.
Consumption dropped in the following months, hitting nadir of 3, 000MT in September 2013 after the Kenya government introduced 16 percent value added tax (VAT) on the commodity and others, which were initially zero-rated.
Energy experts then warned that the tax would be counterproductive as it would raise demand for unclean energy like charcoal and kerosene leading to deforestation and respiratory diseases.
“The law is unfortunate because it will disenfranchise many Kenyans. It has pushed up prices of various energy products making them unaffordable,” said James Wakaba, the then regional director of Global Village Energy Partnerships.
It is now good news that Kenyans have once again embraced cooking gas after about three years of low consumption.
“We hope fuel prices will remain low so that demand continues to grow. Some of our colleagues had to close shop because few people were consuming cooking gas,” said Vincent Mutungo, a dealer at Donholm on the east of Nairobi.
And as consumption of cooking gas increases, demand for charcoal has dropped pushing down prices of the commodity that is widely used in both urban and rural areas.
A 4kg tin of the commodity is currently being sold at 0.77 dollars, down from 0.82 dollars months back when demand was high.
“I have stopped using other fuels like kerosene and charcoal because cooking gas is now affordable. I hope things remain the way they are for long,” said Florence Muthue, who works with a non- state institution in Nairobi.
Kenyans consume annually an average of 100,000MT of cooking gas, which is imported from mainly from Middle East. Enditem


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