KENYA: London will support climate action through an investment of $4 billion

The harvest is good for Kenya which is participating in the 27e United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) in Egypt. On the sidelines of this international meeting placed under the sign of the climate emergency, the Kenyan Head of State William Ruto spoke with the new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The two leaders have committed to a 500 billion Kenyan shillings investment plan to support “Kenya’s leadership on climate change”.

This funding is intended to support several infrastructure projects favorable to climate change mitigation. In terms of energy, the United Kingdom promises to support the establishment of the Grand High Falls hydroelectric development. The project, which will be implemented approximately 280 kilometers from the capital Nairobi, concerns the construction of a dam at Kibuka Falls on the Tana River. The dam will be capable of retaining 5.6 billion m3 of water, enough to generate a hydroelectric capacity of 1,000 MW. It will be the largest hydroelectric power station in Kenya.

The financing of the Grand High Falls hydroelectric project in PPP

In addition to the production of electricity, the hydroelectric development should also allow the development of irrigated agriculture in a local context marked by the resurgence of episodes of drought. The Kenyan government estimates that the future water reservoir could irrigate 400,000 hectares of agricultural land. However, the project is disputed. It is implemented close to the Mwingi National Reserve which is a biodiversity hotspot home to iconic large African savannah mammals including buffaloes, zebras, hippos, cheetahs, giraffes, etc.

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The dam lake which should cover an area of ​​165 km2 between Kitui and Tharaka-Nithi counties is expected to displace 4,500 families. The project is being implemented under a public-private partnership (PPP) involving the British engineering company GBM which is expected to sign a power purchase agreement (PPA), as well as a power purchase agreement water for agricultural irrigation with the Kenyan authorities. The project will receive an investment of 425 billion shillings from the British government, or $3.4 billion.

Investing in solar and geothermal energy

Rishi Sunak has also pledged 7.5 billion Kenyan shillings (61.6 million dollars) for the extension of the Malindi solar photovoltaic power plant. The installation with a capacity of 40 MWp commissioned in December 2021 by the British independent power producer (IPP) Globeleq will see its capacity doubled. The plant will also be equipped with a battery storage system, which represents an overall investment of 15 billion shillings, just over 123 million dollars.

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For the Menengai geothermal project in the Rift Valley, London provides an envelope of 12.5 billion shillings, nearly 103 million dollars. This financing will enable the construction of a 35 MWe power plant running on steam produced from the natural heat of the subsoil. This geothermal project is implemented as part of a partnership between the Kenyan public company Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and Globeleq. The joint venture has already signed a PPA with Kenya Power (KPLC), the public company that transmits and distributes electricity in Kenya.

Financing ecological mobility

Besides energy, the investment plan of more than 4 billion dollars also covers the development of climate-smart agriculture, through an agro-industrial project. This project is implemented by a joint venture between the county of Kisumu and the British group United Green. It will receive funding of 31 billion shillings (over $254 million) from the British government, which estimates the number of beneficiaries of this ecological farming initiative at 20,000.

In terms of mobility, the project to build the new railway station in the Kenyan capital receives 94.5 billion dollars. This project is designed to enable the “green” regeneration of the center of Nairobi. The future station will also be linked to a bus rapid transit system, which incorporates the latest “innovations in green building technology and planning”, says the Kenyan government. The project was developed with technical assistance from the UK government. Epsom, England-based Atkins won the contract to design the new station. London is also financing 16.4 million dollars for the establishment of a new company based in Kenya and dedicated to the financing of sustainable infrastructure. This project is supported by investment companies InfraCo Africa and Cardano Development.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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