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PM urges greater effort to bridge power deficit

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – The energy sector has been challenged to reduce its over-reliance on feasibility studies and instead implement strategies that can help the country bridge the current power deficit.

Pointing especially to the exploration of the first nuclear energy reactor in the country, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said experts must move from dwelling too much on the surveys at the expense of projects’ implementation.

“The country must walk the talk and make the nuclear project a reality in five years time,” he stressed while pledging government’s support towards these initiatives.

“Every country has got its own priorities which are basically dictated by strategic national interest, and we should be allowed to take our decisions on the basis of those interests,” the Premier went on.

Speaking while closing the second National Energy Conference, Odinga was also irked at the sector’s failure to implement recommendations from the first meeting hence contributing to some of the problems such as power rationing, high electricity and petroleum prices that Kenya is facing.

For instance, four projects with a combined generation capacity of 552 Megawatts, which should have been commissioned in June this year, have been rescheduled to 2013, he regretted.

To ensure that these crises are averted in the future, he called on industry experts to fast track proposals made at the close of the second National Energy Conference on Thursday.

The proposals include the provision of payment securities to independent power producers and the provision of ninety day’s strategic stocks of petroleum fuels and associated storage.

Also Read:  International market still has confidence in Kenya

In addition, the meeting recommended the dredging and widening of the Kilindini port channel to enable ‘panamax’ ships to berth and discharge oil cargoes at any time of the day as opposed to waiting for periods of high tides.

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These were recommendations that the government was taking seriously Odinga assured, while underscoring the importance of giving them priority to enable the government achieve the country’s blueprint, Vision 2030.

This would be supported by appropriate regulatory framework and already the government has announced plans to review some fiscal policies in the sector to create a conducive environment.

“To grow the power generation from the current 1,460 mega watts to the 21,620 MW projected for Vision 2030, it is estimated that close to Sh4.6 trillion will be required. President Kibaki has directed the Finance and Energy Ministries to fast track the implementations of the conference resolutions,” he remarked.

Also present at the function was Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi who disclosed that the sector is set to spend an additional Sh5billion for electrification in Nairobi.

“The power blackout that took place on Wednesday evening was a major embarrassment to the government. In the midst of holding an energy conference, there was no energy in Nairobi. To ensure this doesn’t take place, my ministry has set aside a further Sh5 billion for this year to ensure there is an adequate supply to Nairobi,” Murungi said.

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