Copy of 2023-08-26T070719Z_1128291039_RC2YOZ913668_RTRMADP_3_KENYA-ELECTRICITY-1693036074373
While widespread power outages do happen in Kenya, it is rare for the blackouts to affect operations at the airport, with no reports of such incidents in recent memory. Image Credit: REUTERS

Nairobi: Kenya’s transport minister apologised to the country late on Friday night after a widespread electricity blackout left passengers at the main airport in Nairobi grappling in darkness.

Power went off in many parts of the country at 9.45 pm on Friday, the electricity distribution company Kenya Power said in a statement, attributing the loss to “a system disturbance leading to the loss of bulk power supply”.

Images of stranded passengers sitting in darkness at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) soon surfaced on social media. The airport operator Kenya Airports Authority said that one of its stand-by generators at the facility did not kick in.

“I’m really sorry for what has happened at the JKIA with the blackout,” Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. “There is no excuse worth reporting and there is no reason why our airport is in darkness.” It was not immediately clear how the lack of power at the airport, a key gateway for leisure and business travellers into the continent, affected flights.

Officials at national airline Kenya Airways were not immediately available for comment.

Kenya Power said it had restored supply to the airport, five hours after the incident began. Many homes and businesses were still without power more than 12 hours after the blackout started.