Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged African countries to embrace low-cost, green energy for the continent to realise 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 Tuesday that his administration had scaled up its investment in green energy, and was reaping dividends in lower 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,” he told 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 Tuesday.

The President told the panel that Kenya had rediscovered the power and promise of infrastructure as an important component to drive 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 added that Kenya had overcome its energy deficit by raising energy generated through geothermal and other renewable energy sources to more than two-thirds of the country’s entire energy supply.

Last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance ranked Kenya among the top 10 countries in the world to have made significant investments in renewable energy.

Within two and a half years, the Kenyan government had increased power generation from 1,765 megwatts (MW) to 2,319 MW, President Kenyatta said, adding that with domestic demand of 1,585 MW as at January 2016 against a production capacity of 2,319 MW, the country had, for the first time in its 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,” he said.

President Kenyatta disclosed that Kenya had 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 70 billion shillings (about 695 million US dollars) 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 USD per kilowatt-hour (KwH) is expected to further drive down the cost of electricity in the country.

With the increased supply of energy, President Kenyatta said, the government had 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 had 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 had shown their commitment to invest in green energy but more needed 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 better tomorrow,” President Kagame said.

AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina assured the leaders that the Bank would continue to provide preferential funding to Africa’s green energy projects

Source: Nam News Network