President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged African countries to embrace low cost green energy for the continent to realize its development goals.
Sharing Kenya’s experience and his agenda to light up 70 per cent of homes in the country by the end of 2017, the President said his administration has scaled up its investment in green energy, and is reaping dividends in lowering the cost of electricity.
“We in Kenya determined that cheaper energy was vital to lower our cost of living, to raise our productivity, and to lower the cost of starting and sustaining a business,” President Kenyatta said.
He was speaking when he led a panel discussion on “The Path to Universal Access to energy in Africa by 2025” at the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings which officially opened in the Zambian capital of Lusaka today.
The President told the panel that Kenya has rediscovered the power and promise of infrastructure as an important component that drives business and production.
“Kenyan children work better and longer when they can study under electric lights, and don’t have to rely on kerosene lamps. That’s why energy matters so much – it is an absolutely essential ingredient for the infrastructure and development we want to see,” he said.
He informed the meeting that Kenya has overcome its energy deficit by raising geothermal and other renewable energy to more than two-thirds of the entire supply.
Last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance ranked Kenya among the top 10 countries in the world that have made significant investments in renewable energy. Within two and a half years, the Jubilee administration increased power generation from 1,765 to 2,319 megawatts. With a demand of 1585 as at January 2016 against a production capacity of 2,319, the country has – for the first time in history – a good margin of reserve energy.
“Kenyans have cheaper energy now, and yet we still preserve our very rich natural heritage for those who come after us,” the Head of State said.
President Kenyatta disclosed that Kenya has worked together with and learned from the experience and expertise of its partners and friends in its effort to ensure universal access to electricity.
The President lauded Japan’s partnership in most of the country’s geothermal projects and acknowledged the support of other development partners in the Lake Turkana wind power project.
Kenya’s position as a leader in green energy production globally received a major boost when President Kenyatta launched the Sh70 billion Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project on July 2 last year. The wind power project located at Sarima in Marsabit County, is billed to be the largest in Africa. The wind plant will produce 310 MW of electricity and the first power produced is expected to be connected to the national grid before the end of 2016. Power from LTWP at a cost of $8.42 cents (Sh842) per KW is expected to further drive down the cost of electricity in the country.
With the increased supply of energy, President Kenyatta said his administration has connected virtually every school to the grid.
“That might not seem a big deal until you remember the research showing that connecting a household to electricity nearly doubles the amount of time its children spend on their education,” President Kenyatta said.
He emphasized that the continent must strive to ensure every African has access to a reliable supply of green energy.
“For every African, cheap energy means health and food, education and production that matches our energy and innovation,” the Head of State said.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said African leaders shown their commitment to invest in green energy but more needs to be done.
“We are not moving as fast as we should in the production of green energy but there is hope today that we can do bettertomorrow,” President Kagame said.
AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina assured the leaders that his bank will continue to provide preferential funding to Africa’s green energy projects.