, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – President Mwai Kibaki on Friday inaugurated the new 60 Megawatt Sondu Miriu hydropower station in Nyanza province.
The Sh19 billion project was co-funded by the Kenyan and Japanese governments.
President Kibaki said the construction of the project in the western region was based on the need by the government to reduce the vulnerability of hydro electricity production to droughts.
“Power stations on Tana River which under normal conditions account for more than 70 percent of our hydro electricity production are currently experiencing a sharp decline due to prolonged drought,” President Kibaki stated.
He however noted that the weather situation in the Western parts of the country has been moderate and hence the need to tap on this comparative advantage.
President Kibaki further said the government was in the midst of constructing another new power station with a capacity of 21 megawatts downstream Sondu-Miriu River.
Kenya plans to produce an additional 2,000 MW by 2012 to meet the rising demand for electricity which is estimated to be eight percent per annum but experts have warned that this will only be achieved if all stakeholders are engaged in generation.
“I urge the Committee which has been established under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, to accelerate the development of geothermal and other renewable sources of energy,” the President said.
Kenya\’s installed electricity capacity is 1296 MW of which KenGen generates 77 percent mainly through hydroelectric dams. Another 12 percent is generated through geothermal power.
Of KenGen\’s 1005MW part of Kenya\’s power mix, 73 percent is from hydrodams, 11 percent geothermal and 0.5 percent wind. The rest is from generators running on diesel.
President Kibaki warned that sustainable electricity production from these two power plants would depend on how fast Kenyans put a stop to deforestation activities at the Mau.
“We must preserve this water tower that is also the main source of water for the Sondu-Miriu River,” President Kibaki said.
“Degradation of the Mau forest catchment area will render the massive investments in these two hydro power stations useless.”
Initial inauguration of the Sondu Miriu hydro power project was put off in July last year as a result of reduced water levels at a river supplying the plant, following the destruction of the forest.
At least 12 rivers flow from Mau into Lake Victoria.
Illegal logging, charcoal-making and encroachment are some of the problems that have beset the forest which helps in holding ground water, reducing soil erosion, water purification and micro-climate regulation.
It further supports key economic sectors including agriculture, tourism, energy and water supply.