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Slow growth likely to dim Sh1trn nuclear energy plan

Thursday April 11 2019

A nuclear power plant

A nuclear power plant. Slow economic growth and poor power demand could delay Kenya’s ambitious nuclear energy programme that was to go live in 2027. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

VICTOR RABALLA
By VICTOR RABALLA
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Slow economic growth and poor power demand could delay Kenya’s ambitious nuclear energy programme that was to go live in 2027.

While there are forecasts putting economic growth at 6.3 percent in 2019, the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) cautioned that such progress could jeopardise their plan to produce 2,000 megawatts (MW) capacity power.

Board chairman Ezra Odondi said the country needs to have the capacity to consume the energy to make the Sh1 trillion venture viable.

“Kenya Vision 2030 has identified energy as a key enabler for its realisation. For this to be achieved, Kenya needs to establish an elaborate manufacturing sector complete with integrated steel mills among others,” he said.

Speaking during a public hearing on Nuclear Regulatory Bill at Sovereign Hotel in Kisumu on Wednesday, Mr Odondi said attainment of the programme could delay for up to 10 years.

“For us to achieve the 2027 deadline, the economy must develop 10 times or more,” said Mr Odondi.

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National Assembly’s Energy committee chairman David Gikaria noted that Kenyans have already raised issues on environmental effects of the plant, a factor which they hope to be addressed by experts.

“We may not be able to tell how it is going to affect the lake and the aquatic life there in but we hope that the concerns raised will be adequately handled by the nuclear professionals,” he said.

Mr Gikaria said the Radiation Protection Board will ensure proper management of radioactive wastes in support of safety of people and environment.

He said installation of nuclear energy will help the country attain the Big Four Agenda as well as realisation of safe, reliable and effective energy.

“The plant will enable Kenyans realise cheap energy and put an end to power outages as a single plant will provide a continuous power supply for 18 months and last for 70 years,” added the Nakuru Town East Member of Parliament.