NAIROBI, September 15 – The Government estimates that the country needs about Sh70 billion to put up a nuclear power plant.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said Monday that the proposed plant would initially have the capacity to generate about 1000 MegaWatts (MW) of electricity, which would help the country reduce its over reliance on hydropower.
“We are thinking about putting up a nuclear power plant that would go a long way in helping us meet our energy challenges,” he emphasised.
Asked when he thought the country would be able to use this nuclear capacity, Murungi Kiraitu said the government had invited a team of nuclear energy experts to a National Energy Conference, where they would brainstorm on the way forward.
The conference will bring together all stakeholders in the industry to discuss policy options and business models aimed at increasing the contribution share of renewable sources in energy supply. It also seeks to address the challenges facing the sector.
“We want to listen to what they have to say. We have invited professors from the University of Nairobi as well as foreign investors to come and shed more light on the matter,” he added.
During a press conference to announce the upcoming October 7-9 conference, Murungi reiterated that the government was encouraging consumers to avoid high priced oil companies and instead buy their fuel from the more affordable state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC).
He was non-committal however on the action, if any, that the government was taking to pressurise oil firms to lower their pump prices.
Kiraitu revealed that his ministry was only purchasing its fuel from NOC as a cost cutting measure and encouraged other ministries to do the same.
He also disclosed that they were in negotiations with friendly governments such as Venezuela and Sudan to supply the country with crude and other petroleum products on concessional terms.
“My Permanent Secretary (Patrick Nyoike) is going to Sudan on Wednesday to follow up on a discussion with their government,” he said.
The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding that stipulated how Kenya would start importing 500,000 barrels of crude oil from Sudan every month.
The Minister further explained that though there was a diplomatic hitch in discussions with the Venezuelan government, they would not abandon their plans to access cheaper petroleum products from the South American country.
“There are some hitches, which I will not disclose now, but we are not giving up. We are talking to our Foreign Minister to restart those talks,” he added.
“We are pursuing all strategies available to us to reduce the high petroleum prices,” the Minister assured.
The government, Murungi said, had stepped up the exploration of oil and gas in the country and had in the last two years licensed many companies to explore oil in all sedimentary basins.
It is also spending Sh4 billion this financial year to drill 16 exploration wells for geothermal energy in the Rift Valley.