The harvest is good for Kenya, which participates on the 27the UN climate conference (COP27) in Egypt. On the sidelines of this international meeting set under the sign of the climate crisis, 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 shilling investment plan to support “Kenya’s leadership in climate change”.
Kenya welcomes Britain’s decision to accelerate new green investment in the country. We are committed to promoting our cooperation, especially in the areas of regional peace and security, energy, agriculture and infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/mZQsQozAfl
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) 7 November 2022
This funding is intended to support several infrastructure projects favorable to climate change mitigation. In terms of energy, the UK pledges to support the establishment of the Grand High Falls hydroelectric development. The project, which will be carried out approximately 280 kilometers from the capital Nairobi, concerns the construction of a dam at Kibuka Falls on the Tana River. The dam will be able to retain 5.6 billion3 water, enough to generate a hydropower capacity of 1,000 MW. It will be the largest hydroelectric plant in Kenya.
The financing of the Grand High Falls hydroelectric project in the OPP
In addition to the production of electricity, the hydroelectric development should also enable the development of irrigated agriculture in a local context characterized by the resurgence of drought episodes. The Kenyan government estimates that the future water reservoir can irrigate 400,000 hectares of agricultural land. However, the project is controversial. It is deployed close to the Mwingi National Reserve which is a biodiversity hotspot home to iconic large African savannah mammals including buffalo, zebra, hippopotamus, cheetah, giraffe etc.
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The dam lake, which had to 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 British engineering firm GBM, which is expected to sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) as well as a water power purchase agreement 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 dollars.
Investment in solar energy and geothermal energy
Rishi Sunak has also pledged 7.5 billion Kenyan shillings ($61.6 million) for the expansion of the Malindi solar power plant. The 40 MWp plant, commissioned in December 2021 by UK independent power producer (IPP) Globeleq, will see its capacity doubled. The plant will also be equipped with a battery storage system, which represents a total investment of 15 billion shillings, just over $123 million.
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For the Menengai geothermal project in the Rift Valley, London provides an envelope of 12.5 billion shillings, almost 103 million dollars. This funding will enable the construction of a 35 MWe power plant running on steam produced from the natural heat from underground. This geothermal project is carried out 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
In addition to 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 carried out 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 organic 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 downtown Nairobi. The future station will also be linked to a bus rapid transit system incorporating the latest “innovations in green building technology and planning”, says the Kenyan government. The project was developed with technical assistance from the British government. Epsom, England-based Atkins won the contract to design the new station. London is also funding $16.4 million for the establishment of a new company based in Kenya and dedicated to financing sustainable infrastructure. This project is supported by investment companies InfraCo Africa and Cardano Development.
Jean Marie Takouleu