WB backs Kenya power plan

November 24, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 24 – The government’s recent efforts to switch the country’s power production from hydro dependency to one that focuses on renewable energy has received backing from the World Bank.

Speaking during a tour of the Olkaria Geothermal Power Plant on Tuesday, World Bank Vice President for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili said as the world shifts focus on mitigating effects of climate change, renewable sources of energy such as geothermal was the way of future power production.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has already indicated that Kenya has the capacity to produce its entire electricity requirements from clean energy sources.

The UN agency puts the potential wind energy at 2,000MW and 7,000MW from geothermal and substantial biomass resources.

Ms Ezekwesili revealed that geothermal development was one of the key energy projects the bank would be ready to finance to help boost power production.

“Over a period of 10 years the government would need to invest $4.5 billion in up-scaling the contribution of geothermal energy to 49 percent of its energy mix which we would be willing to partner with the government to make it possible,” she said.

Ms Ezekwesili was however quick to add that the government should not rely on direct foreign investments to finance energy projects adding they should be in the forefront of generating its own funds.

“I am therefore pleased when I hear that KenGen recently had a public infrastructure bond offer to raise its own capital for infrastructure development.”

Also speaking during the tour, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) Managing Director Eddy Njoroge pointed out they were keenly looking towards Solar Thermal energy to further strengthen power production capacity that is also environmentally friendly.

“I will be going to Spain with a team from KenGen to learn from them since they are a world leader when it comes to harnessing solar and thermal energy,” he revealed.

The government has in the past revealed it was keen on importing hydropower from Ethiopia to stabilise power supply and demand. Mr Njoroge welcomed the move saying it would offer Kenya cheap hydro energy (pegged at four US cents per kilowatt-hour) which could be added on to the national grid.

Ms Ezekwesili further stressed this point adding that Kenya had the potential to solve its energy crisis, which she noted was a major constraint to economic development.

“I have had the opportunity to look at your economic blue print and see that energy is one of the key areas the government is addressing  the energy situation,” she said in reference to Vision 2030.

She however urged the government to focus on enhancing its distribution capacity, to make power more accessible to Kenyans as they seek to improve their social status.

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