Obama’s Power Africa to light up Kenya
KenGen has partnered with American companies for capital and technical support in the construction of new wind and geothermal power plants. On Wednesday the company signed the deal with US President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative in what puts the company on course to more than double the country’s energy generation capacity.
The electricity producer plans to generate additional 2,500 megawatts (MW) in 10 years at a cost of Sh900 billion ($9 billion), increasing the country’s total installed power capacity from the current 2,294 MW.
The country is currently faced with continuous power shortage. Most parts of the country depend on kerosene and solar panels as a source of light and power. Recently, it was reported that renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa have attracted over $25 billion in investments and The African Union placed an investment of $20 billion in the projects.
Currently, only 53 per cent of Kenyan homes are currently connected to the national power grid. Power Africa will separately benefit consumers in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa including neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
American companies have committed to invest up to Sh1.8 trillion ($18 billion) in the Power Africa Initiative, according to US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.
The energy production company will receive support from USAID and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation offer project transaction support, finance, procurement, guarantees and legal assistance.
The projects that will benefit from the partnership with Power Africa include Olkaria 5 (140 MW), Olkaria 1 unit 6 (70 MW), refurbishment of Olkaria 1 (51 MW) and phase 1 of Meru wind farm (100 MW).
From the partnership Kenyans will also benefit since power shortage outcry will be reduced. Reports claim that the country has about 10,000 MW of untapped geothermal energy in its Rift Valley steam belt but the huge cost involved has slowed down project implementation. However, this partnership will make it easy for the government to connect the whole country.