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World Bank Africa Vice President lauds Kenya’s Clean Energy Program

World Bank Vice President for Africa, Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili, on Tuesday commended Kenya for its vision of clean energy growth and urged African countries to resolve their energy crises through clean energy solutions.
Ms. Ezekwesili was impressed by Kenya’s ambitions of a clean energy future, which she said will enable the country to reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of life of Kenyans through increased electricity access in rural and urban areas.

“Kenya’s vision and clear path to a clean energy future is bold and should set an example for other African countries,” Ezekwesili said after touring the Olkaria development, the largest geothermal plant in Africa. The plan’s expansion is partly financed by the World Bank under the US$160 million Energy Sector Recovery Project.

Located in the town of Naivasha, about 90 minutes west of Nairobi, Olkaria sits in the scenic Rift Valley. The Rift Valley harbors a majority of Kenya’s largely untapped geothermal potential, estimated at 7,000 megawatts.

Ms. Ezekwesili noted that Kenya’s energy development program includes rapid acceleration of energy production with increased output of clean energy from geothermal, hydro, wind and other sources. The component of clean energy in Kenya’s future energy mix will be over 70 percent, said Eddy Njoroge, Managing Director of the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen), a publicly listed power company.

Achieving this goal will enable Kenya to generate 5.6 million tons of certified emission reductions and earn carbon credits.

“We are very keen to see what comes out of Copenhagen,” said Njoroge, with an eye on the potential revenue stream for generation of more power that could come from selling carbon credits.

Ms. Ezekwesili also praised Kenya’s innovation in financing the energy sector following a recently successful public offer by Kengen geared to raise US$200 million, but which achieved subscriptions of US$360 million. The funds will be invested in further geothermal development, according to Njoroge.

Kenya plans to invest US$4.5 billion over the next 10 years in an ambitious program to connect one million new electricity users between 2008 and 2012. This represents the same number of users that have been connected to the national grid in the past 40 years combined.

“Energy access and availability is key to Kenya’s development and to the quality of life of the Kenyan people,” Ezekwesili said. While in Olkaria, Ms. Ezekwesili also visited Oserian, a private floriculture firm that uses steam from geothermal wells to improve the quality of its roses. Oserian, the world’s largest exporter of carnations, is also one of the largest producers of cut flowers; exporting one million stems a day.

As she toured sections of the Northern Corridor transport system currently under construction in Kenya, the vice president, who ends a three-day official visit to Kenya on Wednesday, also underlined the importance of efficient transport systems for the East Africa region. The Northern Corridor is an important link to the region’s transport system, serving landlocked countries including Uganda, Rwanda and Southern Sudan.

“The support of the Bank has enabled the Kenyan government to undertake extensive investment as well as reforms in the transport system,” Ezekwesili said. “The Bank will continue to assist Kenya and other African countries [as they] solve their infrastructure challenges.”

The World Bank has invested US$460 million, nearly half of the US$960 million that is being used to rehabilitate the Northern Corridor transport system. Other partners include the European Union.

During her visit, Ms. Ezekwesili held meetings with Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. She also had discussions with representatives of the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians, women leaders, think tanks and academia.


Additional information: http://go.worldbank.org/P89RG86TS0
News date: 25/11/2009

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