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Kenya’s land commission rejects US firm's wind power project

COAST
By Benard Sanga | August 10th 2016
National Land Commission Chairman Dr Muhammad Swazuri. PHOTO: FILE

LAMU: The National Land Commission (NLC) has rejected a bid by a consortium of local and United States investors to put up a Sh23 billion wind power project in the county.

Instead, NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri has thrown his weight behind Belgium renewable energy giant, Electrowind, and its local subsidiary Kenwind, to invest Sh21 billion and generate 90MW wind power in the area.

Prof Swazuri said the US company, Cordisons International Limited, which has tried to invest in wind energy in the county since November 2009, had not met the legal requirements to be awarded the lease for 11,000 acres.

Cordisons has been seeking to implement a wind power project to generate 100 megawatts in its first phase in Kiongwe.

Last month, the national and county governments issued two advertisements calling for views from the public on the US and Belgian investments but Dr Swazuri said the advertisement for Cordisons was null and void because he did not approve it.

The company has accused Swazuri of taking sides in an investment dispute between two parties.

Cordisons said it had not received any letter from NLC rejecting its application for lease instruments for the 11,000 acres. They also said the county government had the final say on land matters within the devolved structure.

The firm said it has been waiting for land lease instruments from NLC since 2015 following approval from the county government, which supports the project that was begun under the defunct local government.

Crispin Kodi, an official of Cordisons, told The Standard yesterday that the county government adopted the approvals of the defunct local authority under the 2010 Constitution and the Land Act 2012 when it took power in 2013.

On Sunday, Swazuri visited Bahari ward in Mpeketoni where the two firms have staked their rival claims and gave the nod to the Belgium firm.

Electrowind and its local subsidiary want 3,206 acres out of the 11,000 acres in Bahari, about 20km from the site of the proposed Lamu Port, to erect 38 turbines. Swazuri said compensation for those affected by Electrowind project would be fast-tracked and that verification for the 700 families to benefit would begin this week.

He said the investor had agreed to compensate individuals who were listed among those to be affected by the project but who were later found not to be within the project site.

“Verification of the names of 700 to be compensated will start this week. The investors have signed an MoU with Equity Bank to train all those to be compensated on prudent financial management,” said Swazuri.

Kenwind Director Susan Nandwa appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to help unlock the impasse that has hindered investment by in the counties.

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