The cost of cooking gas in Kenya has surged to an all-time high, defying government initiatives aimed at making clean-burning fuel more affordable.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reveals that the average price of a 13-kilogram cylinder reached a record Sh3,231.84 in March 2024.

This represents a 1.4 per cent increase from February and a 3 per cent jump compared to the same period last year.

The price hike comes despite the government's removal of the 8 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in 2023.

This move initially brought relief to consumers, with prices dropping from an average of Sh3,069 in June 2023 to Sh2,787 in July.

Analysts attribute the recent price surge to a combination of factors. Martin Chomba, chairman of the Petroleum Outlets Association of Kenya, believes the main culprit is the depreciation of the Kenyan shilling against major currencies.

This has inflated the cost of importing LPG, as purchases are typically made in US dollars.

"I believe this is a direct effect of the forex rates that were applicable between January and February," observes Chomba.

He adds that high international LPG prices, driven by winter demand and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, further exacerbated the issue.

However, Chomba predicts a potential price decrease in the coming quarters as summer approaches in the Northern Hemisphere and the shilling strengthens.

The government's long-term strategy aims to transition households towards using LPG.

The recently developed LPG Growth Policy mandates new housing developments to include infrastructure for LPG reticulation.

Additionally, the policy proposes establishing shared LPG import terminals, subsidizing gas cylinders for low-income families, and promoting LPG use in institutions.

One key project is the construction of a bulk LPG receiving terminal at the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone, with a planned storage capacity of 30,000 tonnes.

The success of these initiatives remains to be seen, but they highlight the government's commitment to promoting LPG use in Kenya.