Addis power line good to go, address concerns
Posted Friday, July 13 2012 at 18:40
On Thursday, World Bank approved a Sh57.5 billion loan to fund construction of a power line that will transmit power to Kenya from Ethiopia.
While lending is purely the Bank’s line of duty, Thursday’s approval came as a win to the government and the general public keen on fostering development in the country.
But in what is increasingly becoming predictable norm in this country where every project proposed is greeted by opposition from non-governmental organisations, Human Rights Watch wrote to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim seeking his intervention in stopping the funding.
The New York based non-governmental organisation says that carrying out the project would violate environmental and human rights.
Their biggest complaint being that the over 1,000-kilometre transmission line would result in displacement of residents.
They also cited the fact that a dam that will likely produce some of the power in future — currently under construction in Ethiopia — could pose serious environmental consequences for Lake Turkana, a Unesco world heritage site.
World Bank estimates that about 5,000 people will be directly affected by the power project. The project itself is significant for the country.
As part of its growth plan, Kenya needs to import at least 10 per cent of her power needs estimated at 15,000 megawatts by 2030. Comparative, this is equal to the current installed capacity in the country.
While the livelihood of the 5,000 people is paramount and their every concern must not be ignored, it’s unlikely that the best way to address this is to kill a project that is central to the country’s growth prospect.
A middle ground must be sought ensure that this project is carried with minimal interference to the environment and those affected are adequately compensated so they can to go on with their lives.