US denies direct support for Kenya’s oil pipeline

Wednesday January 13 2016

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec with Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter at his Nyayo House office on January 5, 2015. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec with Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter at his Nyayo House office on January 5, 2015. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
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The US government has denied claims that it will directly support a proposed crude oil pipeline in Kenya, as questions emerge on whether American taxpayers will allow their money to be spent in Kenya.

The US Embassy in Nairobi said that recent media reports that Ambassador Robert Godec had pledged US financial support for a pipeline are inaccurate.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US said that Mr Godec did not say that the US government would help finance the construction of the pipeline.

“He expressed support for a proposal by a consortium of American companies to participate in the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor Project, which conceptually includes an oil pipeline component,” said the statement.

Godec is then quoted as mentioning in a January 5 meeting with Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter that “a Power Africa analysis indicates that Kenya will need $14-18 billion to finance renewable energy power development, and not a pipeline.”

A US publication, the Wall Street Journal on January 10 raised questions on whether US taxpayers will allow their money to be spent in Kenya.

“These cases are worth watching, especially by those who still want the US to welcome foreign investment……, US taxpayers will want to keep an eye out to see if their dollars are used to finance the Kenya project,” says the report.

An interview with CS Keter also revealed that the support pledged was through the “Obama power Africa initiative.”

“The US government cannot give money [directly] to Kenya; this will happen under the Power Africa kitty, which targets all initiatives under energy,” said Mr Keter in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Media reports indicated Mr Godec said his government would help secure funding to the tune of Sh1.4 trillion towards the oil pipeline and power generation projects.

The announcement has created excitement across East Africa at a time when Uganda is playing tough on partnering with Kenya to build an oil pipeline.