African Development Bank breaks ranks with the World Bank to back coal in Kenya

By | Kenya | No Comments

The African Development Bank is in in talks with Kenya to part-fund the construction of a new coal plant, bank officials revealed this week.

Kenya has some of the most ambitious energy plans of sub-Saharan African country, and is aiming to bring electricity to 95% of the population by 2020.

The national electrification rate stood at just 20 percent in 2014, according to the IEA.

The new coal plant on the island of Lamu would add 1 gigawatt of baseload energy to Kenya’s national grid, providing round-the-clock power to a country that is desperate to industrialise.

To mitigate the environmental impact, it will employ the latest Chinese “supercritical” technology, which produces less CO2 per unit of energy.

Kenya’s government are pursuing a balanced energy mix, and have also sought to exploit the country’s abundant geothermal resources. Ministers accept however that renewables alone will not be able to supply power on the scale needed to develop the economy.

“Given that Kenya requires over 30 gigawatts to be an industrialised nation, we require all kinds of sources of power”, Energy Minister Charles Keter said in May.

The African Development Bank, which is helping to fund the project in partnership with the private sector, has taken a more pragmatic view on coal than western counterparts such as the World Bank.

“Africa must develop its energy sector with what it has,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said. “Endowed with many different energy sources – both renewable and conventional – Africa needs a balanced energy mix.”

He added: “This must include renewable and conventional sources of power.”

Kenya’s geothermal success story holds important lessons for other parts of Africa

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Kenya has made heroic progress on electricity access in recent years. From 2013 to 2016 the proportion of Kenyan households with an electricity connection jumped from just 27 percent to 55 percent. The Government has ambitious plans to deliver 95 percent access by 2020.

A key factor in this success is that Kenya’s state power corporation has invested heavily in “last mile” grid connections: prioritising communities that live relatively close to existing power infrastructure so they can get connected as quickly as possible.

Another factor is that Kenya has been exploiting its rich resources of geothermal power. Last year it opened the world’s largest geothermal power station at Olkaria, which now supplies a fifth of the nation’s electricity.

Using funds from the African Development Bank and international donors, another geothermal project currently in construction will supply power to 500,000 households and 300,000 small businesses.

Geothermal energy works by harnessing the heat from the planet’s core. At certain points in the earth’s crust, this heat comes close to the earth’s surface and can be used to create steam and drive a turbine, generating electricity.

Geothermal is considered virtually renewable, producing only a tiny amount of carbon dioxide. A key advantage of geothermal compared to other renewables is that it can provide “baseload power”. This means the energy is there to be used whenever it’s needed and is not dependent on sunlight or weather conditions.

The main disadvantage is that geothermal power it is limited to countries with the right geological activity.

It’s estimated that Africa as a whole has around 14 gigawatts of geothermal energy that could be potentially exploited. (For comparison, a 1 gigawatt power plant can provide enough electricity for around 1 million UK homes.) The countries with significant geothermal potential are all in East Africa and include Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique.

Kofi Annan recently said that Africa needs a “tenfold increase” in power production, if it is to have any hope of delivering universal electricity access by 2030. For countries that have it, geothermal has a key role to play in providing that power.

Kenya blackout highlights the need to fix the region’s power supply

Kenya blackout highlights the need to fix the region’s power supply

By | Kenya | One Comment

Large parts of Kenya, including the capital Nairobi, were plunged into a blackout yesterday, after a problem at a substation in Kenya’s Central Province.

Power cuts have become common in many parts of Kenya, a country where 35 percent of young people are unemployed and 40 percent of the population live on less than $2 a day.

A chronic problem in sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana have all seen economic growth held back by blackouts in recent years.

Kenya’s blackout comes in the wake of comments by Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Dr Amina Mohamed, who said last week that Africa can no longer rely on income from natural resources and instead ‘needs to strengthen its economic base through further industrialisation.’

Dr Mohamed pointed out that sub-Saharan Africa still sells only 2% of the world’s manufactured goods and with the right investment, has the potential to do much more.

Yet until countries like Kenya have a more reliable power supply, opportunities for industrial growth will remain limited.

With 600 million Africans still trapped in dire energy poverty, growing and modernising the region’s electricity infrastructure has to be the region’s top development priority.

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Olympic hero wins gold standard energy for her village

Olympic hero wins gold standard energy for her village

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When it comes to those who need it most, electricity can mean the world.

It can keep the lights on for kids to do their homework. It can keep the heating on in maternity wards. It can save millions by keeping life-saving vaccines chilled.

But for one proud father, it means seeing his daughter compete for her country on the world stage.

In 2016, due to a lack of electricity supply in his village, the father of Kenyan athlete Faith Chepng’etich was unable to watch his daughter bring home gold for her country.

The village has not been electrified a day since it was formed in the early 1980s, but when Faith returned home, and a request was made to Kenya Power, a team was dispatched in a day.

On August 26th, the official ‘switching on’ ceremony took place, and a town that was plagued with darkness whenever the sun went down for nearly 40 years, was finally connected to the grid.

Faith’s neighbor Mr. Benard Lang’at told the Daily Nation: ‘We thank Faith for delivering us from the powers of darkness… because today our village has been connected to power because of her sterling performance in the Olympic Games.’

But her father is the one who is truly thankful for her life changing efforts.

I only thank God for giving me such a wonderful daughter who has transformed our village and I pray to God to give her strength and good health so that she can win more medals for Kenya.’

Nakuru County receives most of its power from one of the country’s many hydropower plants, meaning the village will be provided with reliable power and Faith’s father will be able to watch her compete for years to come.


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Access to electricity is a human right, and the only way for poorer countries to develop. Add your name if you agree.

Kenya keen to grow investments in energy sector with charter treaty

Kenya keen to grow investments in energy sector with charter treaty

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Via Footprint 2 Africa

The Government of Kenya will later this year sign the Energy Charter Treaty after observing the Energy Charter Conference in Japan, this is aimed at attracting as well as protecting investments in the sector.

Kenya’s disposition to the Treaty was confirmed at the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi after deliberations between Ambassador Urban Rusnak, Secretary General, Energy Charter Conference and Kenya’s Attorney General Professor Githu Muigai.

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