Energizing The Kenyan Economy – Olkaria IV

What would happen if the whole country experienced a blackout for just a single week?

Think wide and think deep; hospitals, factories and other businesses, government and non-governmental institutions would all come to a stand still. That is even too far, what of you at home? No TV, no ironing of clothes, no computer, no phone, no fridge and the list is endless….

Would I then be right if I said that reliable energy is the central pillar of any economy?

Well, Kenya seems to have realized that, and we are out to actualize the dream of shifting from a low income economy to a middle income economy; the key drivers of this shift that we are betting on being infrastructure and energy. For the infrastructure part, I don`t want to pouch our president of his hard earned legacy; he has made it! Now its time to also do something on the energy sector. And yes, we are on the move…

The Olkaria IV geothermal power project was commissioned by the president the other day. This project is expected to contribute 280MW of power to our national grid. The $1 billion (about Ksh. 84B) project is expected to be operational by 2014 and to a large margin reduce the cost of energy in Kenya. Taking about only 27 months to completion, this is a clear indication by the government of its willingness to see our economy achieve the vision 2030.

Ordinarily, such a project would take 10 to 20 years from the initiation stage to completion; but due to the urgency with which we need energy to take care of our growing economy and populace, the rules of the game had to change. The companies involved in the project, Japanese Toyota Tsusho Corp and South Korean Hyundai Engineering & Construction are up to task now that the project was formally commissioned, and we are simply waiting for them to deliver.

The shift to geothermal is a trick of killing three birds with one stone. For one, it will reliably supplement energy needs in Kenya since it does not fluctuate on weather basis like hydro-power. Secondly, it is a source of green energy which promotes conservation of our environment by reducing tree cutting for firewood. Thirdly, it will translate to low costs of power making it available and affordable to many Kenyans in the rural areas who probably might be just admiring the bright lighted towns once in a while.

For any economy to grow, their growth rate will highly be determined by the growth in the energy sector. It’s like the biological body which must be feed to grow, or a locomotive which must be fueled to roll on the rails. The same should continue happening too in our country, fueling the economy by investing in more and more reliable and cheap sources of energy.

But for now, kudos to the ministry of energy and the government as a whole for this great initiative!!!



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