Monday, August 20, 2012

Kenya won't cancel power agreement with Ethiopia

East Africa: Kenya Not to Cancel Power Purchase Deal With Ethiopia

17 August 2012

Kenya has dismissed calls for the cancellation of a multi-million
dollar power purchase agreement with Ethiopia inprotest of a massive
hydropower project that water scientists say will alter the lives of
residents of Turkana region in Kenya.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said despite ongoing efforts to expand
electricity generation through investments in green energy
initiatives, the demand for electric power in the East African nation
would continue to grow, which justifies the need to import power from
neighboring Ethiopia to meet the shortfalls."We will lower the cost of
energy through the importation of power from Ethiopia," Odinga said
late on Wednesday.

Environmentalists say the 1.7 billion U.S. dollar hydropower project
would alter the lives of half a million residents of Lake Turkana and
other regions neighboring Sothern Ethiopia. There are fears that the
Omo River, which supplies water to the Gibe III Dam under
construction, would affect water levels on Lake Victoria if its course
is altered as proposed in the design of the power plant.

Kenyan parliamentarian, Ekwe Ethuro, who represents Turkana, said his
constituents were deeply concerned that the environmental impact of
the project could far outweigh the benefits. "Any project that alters
the flow and course of the Omo River will have effects," Ethuro
said.Odinga said Nairobi was aware of the environmental impacts the
Dam project would have on the residents of Turkana, but insisted the
analysis by Kenyan scientists working on the project showed it would
be temporary. "Omo River is the biggest river flowing into Turkana.

Our concern it (project) will undermine the flow of the river. Our
scientists are working on it. It is true there will be a disruption
but this is temporary. The bulk of the water will flow into the
irrigation project," Odinga said, to much parliamentary opposition.

Odinga said although there were possible environmental impacts, Kenya
was in no position to stop Ethiopia from using the waters of Omo River
as a resource. "We have engaged Ethiopia constructively. Ethiopia will
sell electricity to us and we are financing this project because it
will lower the cost of energy," Odinga asserted.The two governments
formed a joint council to deal with matters arising as a result of the
use of the Omo River waters, amid complaints from international non
governmental organizations. Kenya aims to raise its annual electricity
output to 15,000 megawatts while Ethiopia's target is to raise
electric power production to 37,000 MW and become the region's biggest
exporter of power.

The two countries signed a power purchase agreement in 2011 and agreed
on the terms of constructing a regional power inter- connector to
link their grids and implement the regional trade in electricity.


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