Lamu coal plant still on, key investor says

Lamu residents protest against a planned coal power plant in 2015. They have rejected the project on environmental grounds. [File, Standard]

The development of a 1,050 MW coal power plant to be constructed in Lamu is on track, investors said on Thursday.

James Mworia, CEO of Centum Investment, which owns 51 per cent of the coal power plant, said the project has so far achieved considerable progress.

“So far there are only two things that are pending: the environmental impact assessment (EIA) licence and the partial risk guarantees that the government will give the lenders of the project,” Mr Mworia said during the Centum investor briefing and release of the half-year financial results for 2019/2020.

The coal plant will be developed by a consortium called Amu Power that includes Centum Investment and Gulf Energy.

The engineer procurement contractor as well as debt finance is being undertaken by Chinese firms.

Mworia said the EIA licence that had been issued to Amu Power was revoked in June and the company has opted to appeal the decision before the High Court.

He said as an investor he remained optimistic that the project will eventually be awarded an environmental licence to ensure it can proceed as scheduled. Mworia observed that in accordance with global accounting standards, it has included a provision in its financial statements for the Sh2.2 billion spent so far on the coal power plant. Last month, the project was thrown into uncertainty after the African Development Bank (AfDB) said it would not fund it and has no plans to finance new coal plants in future.

The Abidjan-based lender published an environmental and social impact assessment in May for the Lamu project, which was planned near a Unesco World Heritage Site, but which was halted by a local environmental tribunal.

The European Union has also urged the Kenyan government to increase its focus on generating power through renewable energy sources as the European Investment Bank plans to stop financing fossil fuel projects.