Laisamis — President Uhuru Kenyatta has broken ground to start Africa's biggest wind power project in Laisamis, Marsabit County, as Kenya took giant steps in asserting its position as a leader in green energy production globally.
The project is also the biggest single private sector initiative on the African Continent, costing 623 million euros (more than Sh70 billion), with a galaxy of investors participating in the massive project.
Kenya is already a trendsetter in geothermal energy production and with the successful completion of the Lake Turkana Wind Power, the country is expected to witness similar initiatives as the potential for wind power projects exists in many parts of the country.
President Kenyatta invited more investors to put their money into wind power production and added that the government will continue improving the investment environment to encourage the private sector to play a bigger role in driving the government's transformation agenda.
"Grab a copy of our Wind Atlas (developed in 2003) and do not hesitate to invest your money in Kenya," said the President.
The Head of State said Kenya will continue investing more in green energy and will continue creating the right environment for more investors in the energy sector.
The wind farm at Sarima a few miles from the famous Koobi Fora - which is at the heart of the region known as the cradle of mankind.
The region does not support any other economic activity except nomadic animal husbandry due to its harsh weather.
But this is set to change soon with the new investments that the massive power project will unveil.
President Kenyatta told locals to look up to the new opportunities and abandon negative practices that make the region unsafe.
The Head of State said the new power plant will enable Kenya to reduce the amount of thermal energy that the country uses
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 next year.
Power from LTWP will cost 8.42 US cents per KW and is expected to drive down the cost of electricity in the country.
President Kenyatta said that the Government will give cheaper tariffs to industries that will open in Marsabit County just like a subsidised tariff is being worked out for companies that are setting up near the Ol Karia geothermal plants.
The project will consist of 365 turbines and is expected to achieve 68 per cent load capacity factor, which will make it the most efficient wind power farm in the world.
The first 90 MW of power from the project is expected to be loaded into the national grid by the end of next year.
Power produced at the Loiyangalani site will be evacuated through double circuit lines that will connect to the national grid at Suswa.
The 430km, 400KV double circuit line that will be constructed by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) will also connect Samburu, Marsabit and Turkana County to the national grid.
The same power lines will be used to evacuate power generated from future geothermal power plants along the rift valley.
The Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury Henry Rotich said the Government will continue facilitating project like the wind power project to enable the Government achieve its agenda to transform the country.
Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani said the county has six other sites where wind power projects can be established and invited investors to the region.
Laisamis MP Joseph Lekuton, who played a major role in pushing for the project to kick off, attended the meeting.
Other leaders who attended the meeting included Marsabit Senator Abubakar Harugurah and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi. Moyale MP Roba Duba and Saku MP Dido Ali Raso also attended the meeting.
The chairman of the LTWP Mugo Kibati and Carlo Van Wageningen, one of the owners of the project, also spoke at the function.
The project is funded by many banks including the developments banks of Denmark, the Netherlands, as well as the European Investment Bank participating.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is the lead arranger while South Africa's Nedbank and Standard Chartered Bank are also involved.