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Ethiopian dam project beyond us, says KenGen

By | April 2nd 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Maore Ithula

Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) has distanced itself from an Ethiopian project experts believe could wipe out Lake Turkana.

Yesterday, KenGen Public Relations Manager Mike Njeru said their mandate is to generate, not to buy electricity.

He said they were, therefore, not involved in allowing Ethiopia to build a hydroelectric power dam across River Omo. The river is the lake’s main tributary.

"KenGen does not feature anywhere in this matter because we generate and sell power to Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC). Actually, like Uganda’s Owen Falls Damat Njija, another project on the Ethiopian side would be a competitor to KenGen."

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Yesterday, The Standard reported project to construct a dam across River Omo in Ethiopia.

Initiate dialogue

The story threw experts into a spin, saying such a scheme would destroy Lake Turkana’s ecosystem.

Efforts to reach KPLC were futile.Head of public relations at National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) Ruth Musembi responded in an email saying: "The Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act upholds the principle of international co-operation in managing environmental resources shared by two or more states. Nema will co-ordinate relevant ministries and the Kenya Wetlands Forum to initiate dialogue with Ethiopia."

A Ministry of Water official Rossella Njaya said they were concerned with the new development.

"Consultations have been going on between the two countries even before it was highlighted in the media," she said.

Ms Njaya said the ministry had expressed their concern and requested a joint committee between the two countries.

"We agree the project can bring problems to Kenya. We have appointed three experts to be on the negotiation committee," she said.

Pressed to be more specific, she said: "Perhaps the right person to comment on this is the minister. But she is out of town."

Mrs Charity Ngilu is the minister in charge.

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