Why nuclear energy plan is key to Kenya’s sustainable growth vision


A general view of coal power plant. PHOTO | REUTERS

Kenya's growth prospects look bullish going into the future. As the economy grows, the demand for electricity will continuously be on an upward trajectory. 

Projections indicate that by 2040 electricity demand will outstrip current generation capacity, underlining the sense of urgency in efforts to diversify and bolster the existing power-generation capacity.

One of the new sources of electricity the country seeks to add on to the national grid in the near future is the nuclear energy. Kenya has already set off on the path to tapping this form of energy, targeting starting construction of its first nuclear power plant in 2027. 

The move to construct the capital-intensive plant, which will be located either Kilifi or Kwale counties, gathered steam following approval in 2021 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for Kenya to set up the infrastructure for the envisaged facility.

With projected capacity of 1,000 Megawatts (MW), the plant is expected to reinforce electricity supply, minimise outages and reduce reliance on fossil-generated power.

The realisation of the nuclear dream will place Kenya among the pioneers in Africa in generation of this kind of energy. Only South Africa has built a commercial nuclear plant. Therefore, the project presents Kenya with a rare opportunity to not only meet its electricity needs, but also to export surplus to the neighbouring countries, hence generating additional revenue.

Besides playing a vital role in meeting energy demands, construction of the nuclear plant will be a potent weapon in the war on climate change whose extensive devastation is evident across the globe.

Protracted droughts, more frequent El Nino and attendant cataclysmic floods, constant disastrous heatwaves, wildly unpredictable and extreme weather patterns, among other climatic crises, are some of the dire consequences of a warming climate. Against this ominous background, transition towards sustainable, eco-friendly energy sources has morphed into an urgent global imperative.

Clean energy must now be made a key component of sustainable development strategies not only here in Kenya, but across Africa and the world at large. Indeed, clean energy is rightly identified as one of the infrastructure enablers of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) but also the socio-economic pillar of our Vision 2030.

President William Ruto has emerged has one of the leading global advocates for deliberate, innovative and collaborative approaches in designing strategies to combat climate change. With such goodwill and direction from the topmost leadership, Kenya will continue to be among the pacesetters in adoption of clean energy in the region.

Although Kenya has forged ahead in drive towards clean energy with 94 percent of its electricity coming from renewable sources, Africa in general still lags in transitioning from fossil fuels. This situation demands that countries double down on plans to holistically green their economies in order to avoid compromising any further the integrity of their ecosystem.

As countries craft clean energy strategies, the conversation around nuclear power ought to feature prominently. The message that Africa ought to take seriously is that nuclear power is sustainable, economically competitive, environmentally friendly, and safe relative to other power sources.

With nuclear power, developing countries can attain the twin goals of mitigating the impacts of climate change and meeting their burgeoning electricity demands. Nuclear plants generate negligible greenhouse gases and have the capacity to generate large amounts of electricity. It leaves the least carbon footprints among energy technologies and is the most reliable and flexible in terms of operations.

With these attributes, nuclear is the best bet in complementing renewable sources of electricity. 

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.