10 January 2016, Nairobi — The American Government Tuesday expressed interest in funding construction of an oil pipeline linking northern Kenya oil fields to Lamu, upping its stake in the Lappset project.
Initially designed and planned to be funded by Chinese, the US says it is ready to invest in the Sh2.4 trillion project to open up northern Kenya and link up landlocked South Sudan and Ethiopia to the Lamu port.
US Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Robert Godec, said his government would help secure funding to a tune of Sh1.4 trillion towards the oil pipeline and power generation projects thereby fast-tracking the government’s pledge to export oil as well as provide locals with cheap electricity.
“Commercially viable oil reserves were discovered in 2012 but to date nothing has happened which makes Kenyans wonder what happened. We are confident that the PowerAfrika initiative will help us realise our pledge to Kenyans,” said newly appointed Energy Cabinet Secretary Alfred Keter adding that extra funds will also be sourced through the Export-Import Bank.
Mr Godec said US is also interested in funding expansion of electricity generation capacity and distribution which will help fast-track realisation of ongoing power projects to meet growing demand.
The envoy spoke on Tuesday when he held talks with Mr Keter in Nairobi. Mr Keter said a technical team comprising Energy ministry experts and the American government’s PowerAfrica initiative side will work out details of the pipeline and electricity generation ventures.
He said the ventures are aimed at reducing the cost of power while creating new economic avenues for Kenyans to engage in income-generating activities.
“We are committed to this plan of making energy cheaper for Kenyans through this initiative that seeks to enhance production of green energy, connect more Kenyans and also seek to support off-grid solutions in remote areas that might take long before getting connected to the national grid,” said the ambassador.
Mr Godec said America is closely involved in small power projects, especially on development of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro-projects.
This, he said, would ensure that areas not close to the national grid can develop their own power sources and establish local distribution grids to light up social amenities as well as local industries.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has since given a State House logistics team one month to work out the modalities of crude oil transportation from Turkana oil fields to Mombasa for processing starting September this year which will signal Kenya’s entry into the big league of oil producers and exporters.
*James Kariuki – Daily Nation