October updates on coal in Kenya

While Kenyan government officials have been busy with election complications, there have been several developments regarding the proposed Lamu coal plant and virtual silence on the status of coal mining in Kitui.

  • Analyst Nanjala Nyambola published “Cashing In On Coal” in the World Policy Institute journal (PDF, or below).
  • BankTrack compiled a detailed overview of existing information available on the proposed Lamu coal plant.
  • In mid-October, 350 Africa together with deCOALonize organised a photography exhibition in downtown Nairobi featuring coal plant opponents in Lamu and Kitui.
  • Announcements regarding financing of Lamu coal plant, from AfDB, NSSF, and Standard Bank, as below

AfDB considering support for Lamu coal

In late August and early September, there were reports that the African Development Bank was considering an investment as well as a guarantee. The AfDB has not yet decided to support the Lamu coal plant. Its global board continues to delay the date for its consideration of a guarantee.

Gabriel Negatu, AfDB East Africa Regional Director-General, announced, “The owners of the 1,000MW Lamu coal plant have approached the AfDB for funding amounting to $100 million as well as guarantees of a similar amount for the construction of the power plant.”

Speaking about the Japan-Africa energy initiative, Negatu volunteered, “We will welcome their technology on clean coal energy since we have had serious concerns on how to handle coal plants… A good example is the proposed Lamu coal plant that has seen environmentalists voice concerns. If we can adopt clean technologies from our Japanese counterparts to address this, then that will be welcome.”

NSSF announces its intention to invest in Lamu coal

On 4 October, The Star’s Abel Muhatia reported that the Social Security Fund, the state-run pension fund, “intends to invest in Amu power project in Lamu County to grow its revenue base,” citing an announcement by Anthony Omerikwa, its acting chief executive.

Standard Bank not to finance Lamu coal

Also in October, South Africa-based Standard Bank confirmed directly multiple times that they are not financing the Lamu coal plant.

This development is notable, as prior limited news coverage had indicated that Standard Bank was to finance 25% of the plant, arranged through Centum, citing a single source of the bank’s annual integrated report in 2015. The remaining 75% of the plant cost is to come from China’s ICBC, with further Chinese financing of the 400v transmission line and potential railway extension for the project.)

Following a meeting between Standard Bank’s renewable and sustainable energy staffers and an anti-coal coalition in South Africa, 350 Africa received this reply to their email: “I can confirm that in line with the statements made in the meeting, Standard Bank did not finance the Amu coal-fired power plant. We did review the transaction but, for various reasons, decided not to pursue it. The reference made to Amu on page 47 of the 2015 Integrated Report was an unfortunate error and we apologise for the confusion.”

In The Star, Amu Power project manager Francis Njogu noted that Standard Bank was the proposed coal plant’s “mandated lead arranger, [which] facilitates or leads a group of investors to finance a project and we completed that process in 2015.” The article did not elaborate.

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