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Kenya eyes funding from Obama’s Power Africa

By PETER KIRAGU | August 15th 2014 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Kenya is eyeing tens of billions of energy sector funding from the United States-backed Power Africa initiative that has more than Sh2.2 trillion ($26 billion) to tap from.

The figure was raised last week after the US-Africa Summit from Sh609 billion ($7 billion) that had been set earlier by US President Barack Obama when he launched the ambitious power programme a year ago. The initiative targets Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Liberia.

Power Africa has an ambitious goal of adding more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) of cleaner, more efficient energy generation capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. This increased capacity will make it possible to provide electricity access to 20 million new households and commercial entities in sub-Saharan Africa with on-grid, small-scale, and off-grid solutions.

]Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir said yesterday a number of power projects are earmarked for support under the Power Africa initiative. Some of these projects include the 300MW Turkana Wind power project, the 61MW Kinangop wind project, 100MW Kipeto wind power and another 10MW biomass project. There is an additional 300MW of geothermal power to be developed from Lake Bogoria.
“We came home with a bag of goodies,” Chirchir said, adding that Kenya is ready to compete with five other countries for the funding.

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He, however, said US companies must be willing to participate in the ambitious 5000MW project being undertaken by the Jubilee administration.
“In my view, the power sector was one of the biggest winners,” said Chirchir. The CS downplayed the transfer of Power Africa headquarters from Nairobi to South Africa as a security concern but said this would not affect the lined-up projects. “Power Africa does not do business per se,” said Chirchir on the sidelines of a media briefing on the US-Africa summit. “Power Africa is a push to support American companies to do business in Kenya.”

Yesterday, Chirchir announced that explorer Africa Oil is working with US-based General Electric to develop the one trillion cubic feet of natural gas that had been discovered in Block 9 in Wajir and Marsabit into power that will be fed into the national grid.

The plan is to transform the gas into power in the next 9 to 15 months to add an additional 200 to 500MW into the grid. The CS said one well is being drilled to evaluate the availability of the gas with confirmations expected in the next three and four weeks.

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