Africa's largest wind farm, a €620 million energy masterpiece boosting 365 turbines in northern Kenya, will help the East African nation stay on track to reach its target of 100% green energy by 2020.
Known as the Lake Turkana Wind Power, the 40,000 acre wind farm will generate around 310 megawatts of power to the national grid, enough to light up over 300,000 households.
The winds sweeping the area start in the Indian Ocean and are channeled through the "Turkana corridor" created by Ethiopian and Kenyan highlands. They blow consistently at 11 miles per hour, making this an ideal area for situating wind turbines.
The wind farm will increase the country's electricity supply by 13%. At its launch earlier this month, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, "We again raise the bar for the continent ... Kenya is without doubt on course to be a global leader in renewable energy."
The African Development Bank served as lead arranger for €436 million in senior credit facilities towards the project cost of €623 million euros. The Bank also provided a partial risk guarantee from the African Development Fund of €20 million for the part of the project devoted to the transmission lines.
Since 2016, the Bank has invested around $4.5bn of its own resources in the energy sector.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina is in little doubt about the significance of the Bank's funding. "African economic development is all about political will. We have little time and much to do for the continental transformation needed to light up and power Africa by 2025. Projects like the Lake Turkana Wind Power allow us to leap forward towards our key objectives. The Bank is very proud to be associated with this crucial addition to African infrastructure and clean energy generation".
The continent has copious, even limitless, supplies of sun, water, and wind, as well as significant amounts of natural gas and other valuable natural resources and raw materials. Acccordingly, its New Deal is investing $12 billion over the next five years and leveraging up to $55 billion to achieve universal access to energy by 2025.
"This is a milestone that we are proud to celebrate. Kids can't learn much in the dark. School books have to be put down when the sun sets. Life-saving vaccines can't be preserved. Nurses and mid-wives have to deliver babies using lanterns or torches", said Wale Shonibare, the Bank's acting Vice-President for power, energy, climate change, and green growth.
"Turkana's launch proves that we are determined to continue to work relentlessly to close Africa's energy gap. Our efforts will be felt in hundreds of thousands of Kenyan households and beyond", Shonibare added.
The site is Kenya's largest renewable energy project and its biggest single private sector investment. The plant is expected to reduce power shortages by 12.5% and cut the cost of electricity in Kenya by up to 10%. It is proof of Kenya's commitment to pursue clean sources of energy and provides a major boost to the country's international commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions.