MARSABIT COUNTY: President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday broke ground for Africa's biggest wind-power project in Laisamis, Marsabit County, as Kenya took giant steps in asserting its position as a leader in green-energy production globally.
The project is the biggest single private sector initiative in Africa, costing €623 million (about Sh70 billion), with a galaxy of investors participating in the project.
Kenya is already a trendsetter in geothermal energy production and with the successful completion of the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, the country is expected to witness similar initiatives as the potential for wind power projects still exists in many parts of the country.
President Kenyatta invited more investors to put their money in wind power production, saying the Government will continue improving the investment environment. He said this will encourage the private sector to play a bigger role in driving the Government's transformation agenda.
"Grab a copy of our Wind Atlas (developed in 2013) and do not hesitate to invest your money in Kenya," said the President.
Uhuru said Kenya will continue investing in green energy and creating the right environment for more investors in the energy sector.
The wind farm at Sarima is a few kilometres from Koobi Fora Ridge, better known as the cradle of mankind.
The region does not support any other economic activity except nomadic animal husbandry due to its harsh weather.
But this is set to change with the new investments that the power project will unveil.
Uhuru Thursday told locals to take up the new opportunities and abandon negative practices that make the region unsafe.
He said the new power plant will enable Kenya reduce the amount of thermal energy the country uses. The plant will produce 310MW of electricity and the first 90MW of power from the project is expected to be loaded onto the national grid by the end of next year.
Power from the plant will cost 8.42 US cents per KW and is expected to drive down the cost of electricity.
The President said the Government will give cheaper tariffs to industries that will open in Marsabit, just like a subsidised tariff is being worked out for companies that are setting up near Ol Karia geothermal plants.
The project will consist of 365 turbines and is expected to achieve 68 per cent load capacity factor, which will make it the most efficient wind power farm in the world.
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Power produced at the Loiyangalani site will be transported through double circuit lines that will connect to the national grid at Suswa.
The 430km, 400KV double circuit line that will be constructed by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) will also connect Samburu, Marsabit and Turkana counties to the national grid.
The same power lines will be used to transport power generated from future geothermal power plants along the Rift Valley.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the Government will continue facilitating such projects to enable it achieve its transformation agenda.
Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani said the county has six other sites where wind power projects can be established. Laisamis MP Joseph Lekuton, who played a major role in pushing for the project to kick off, attended the event.
Other leaders, who attended the meeting were; Marsabit Senator Abubakar Harugurah and his Baringo counterpart Gideon Moi. Moyale MP Roba Duba and his Saku counterpart Dido Ali also attended.
The project is funded by many banks including the developments banks of Denmark and the Netherlands, as well as the European Investment Bank. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is the lead arranger while South Africa's Nedbank and Standard Chartered Bank are also involved.