Kenya signs 361MW power deals under Obama energy plan

US President Barack Obama talks with June Muli, head of customer care at M-Kopa, about solar power during the Power Africa Innovation Fair on the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi on July 25, 2015. PHOTO | AFP

Kenya’s quest to produce affordable, clean energy has received a huge boost after the country signed six power deals under United States President Barack Obama’s signature policy initiative dubbed Power Africa.

Six power projects will be developed across several sites in Kenya following signing of deals between the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and Kenya, witnessed by the Deputy President William Ruto at the ongoing US-Africa Business forum in New York.

The projects will add 361 megawatts of clean energy to Kenya’s national grid.

They include a grant agreement to support the development of a 10-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) project in Gitaru, a 40 MW solar PV power plant in eastern Kenya at Nyakwere Hills and a Solar Microgrid Solutions for Island and Village Electrification at eight locations across Kenya with a combined 1.5 MW of new power generation capacity.

Also in the pipeline is the development of a 70 MW geothermal power plant in Olkaria, Naivasha, the development of Lamu Gas-to-Power Project which is projected to add 50-200 MW of new electricity generation capacity to the island, and the Isiolo Solar PV Power Plant where USTDA will partner with Green Millennia Energy to develop a 40 MW solar PV power plant in Isiolo town.

The programme makes Kenya one of the biggest beneficiaries of the $9.7 billion Obama initiative which seeks to double electricity access in Africa.

It was unveiled three years ago by Mr Obama. Its goal is to add 10,000 megawatts of power and supply electricity to 20 million African households within five years.

The projects signed by Kenya come as a big boost to the country’s energy plans as it races to generate clean electricity to power its domestic and industrial needs.

In 2013, the Jubilee government announced a target to grow the installed power capacity from 1,708 megawatts to 6,708 megawatts to spur industrial growth and light more homes.

The deal for the grant agreement to support the development of a 10-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) project in Gitaru was signed between USTDA Director Leocadia Zak and Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen), managing director Albert Mugo.

The project, which is co-located with an existing KenGen-owned hydro plant, will be KenGen’s first utility scale solar asset.

The deal for a 40 MW solar PV power plant in eastern Kenya in Nyakwere Hills was signed between USTDA Director and Quaint Energy Kenya Managing Director Alfred Achar.

Its successful implementation would reduce or avoid tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year as an alternative to fossil fuel power sources.

The successful implementation of the Solar Microgrid Solutions for Island & Village Electrification is expected to help to electrify an estimated 4,500 households and businesses. The feasibility study will be conducted by Atlanta-based US company Renewvia Energy Corporation.

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