As reported in Capital Business, Amu Power to get Lamu Title in October, September 18, 2015, by MARGARET WAHITO.
The Amu Power Company is optimistic that it will get the Title Deed for the land to be used for the construction of the 981.5 Megawatts coal project by the end of October 2016 (other reports are of 1050MW in three units of 350MW). The company, formed through a joint venture between Gulf Energy and Centum Investment, requires at least 870 acres of land in Lamu County for the construction of the coal plant. Amu Power Chief Operating Officer Cyrus Kirima says they are working closely with the National Land Commission (NLC) to ensure the process is smooth and completed within the given time frame. “The project will sit in about 880 acres of land. The Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) will comprehensively address the resettlement process. Education and sensitization of the project affected persons (PAPs) has been ongoing. The development of the power plant is currently on schedule and there are no delays arising from any aspects,” Kirima said. Valuation and taxation Director at the National Land Commission Salome Munubi says the commission is waiting for the RAP consultations report that will give the actual number of people to be compensated as well as resettlement options, either other land or cash. The company has already completed the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment study which is at the moment being reviewed and later to be handed to the National Environment management Authority (NEMA) for approval next month. If all goes as planned, Amu Power plans to kick off construction of the plant on December 7, 2015. It will be the largest private sector led infrastructure project in East and Central Africa.
It was reported that both Save Lamu and another group that are campaigning on the issue, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), fear that the government-run National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) might not be fair with the ESIA. “We sent our comments in November last year (2015) and to date we are yet to get a reply,” said Khadija Shekuwe, the research and documentation officer at Save Lamu. The company has started a CSR campaign giving gifts.
The Lamu coal powered plant would import coal from South Africa, while there is talk of coal mining in Kenya.
Construction of the plant is expected to take 21 months and sell at 7.52 US cents(Sh7.94) per kilowatt-hour under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with Kenya Power, which is close to a third the cost for the diesel-fired plants. The proposed Lamu coal-fired power plant is part of the government's plans to generate 1,920MW of electricity from coal by December 2017. More electricity is being tapped from geothermal wells (1,600MW), Liquefied Natural Gas (700MW), wind (650MW) and hydro (420MW).
UPDATE. By June 2019 it seemed that the project might be shelved because of a court decision. As reported in QUARTZ, by Abdi Latif Dahir, June 27, 2019, the scheme to build Kenya and east Africa’s first coal plant has been stopped.Kenyan judges at the National Environmental Tribunal on Tuesday (June 25) said officials had failed to conduct a thorough assessment of the plant’s impact on Lamu, a historic and idyllic archipelago in the country’s northeast. The tribunal canceled the license issued by the National Environmental Management Authority and ordered developer Amu Power undertake a new evaluation. The environmental court also faulted the Chinese-backed power plant for failing to adequately consult the public about the initiative, and cited insufficient and unclear plans for handling and storing toxic coal ash. The ruling was a win for environmental activists and local communities, who for three years argued the coal plant would not only pollute the air but also damage the fragile marine ecosystem and devastate the livelihoods of fishing communities.
“It really is a great day for the people of Lamu,” said Mark Odaga, a lawyer with nonprofit group Natural Justice. “Theirs was a cry for their voices to be heard, for their concerns to be reflected so that this wasn’t a situation of people being anti-development.”
The judgment dealt a blow to Kenyan authorities who have argued that the coal-fired plant will help meet the country’s fast-growing demand for electricity. Even though president Uhuru Kenyatta announced plans to move the country to 100% green energy by 2020, some 975 acres of land had been set aside for the project, which was expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of power upon completion. The $2 billion plant is majority financed and built by Chinese firms alongside a Kenyan consortium.
The project has drawn protests since its inception, with environmentalists saying coal has no place in a country that already develops most of its energy from hydroelectric and geothermal power. Campaigners have also argued that the plant will devastate the island of Lamu, a major tourist attraction, a UNESCO heritage site, and the oldest and best-preserved example of a Swahili settlement in East Africa.
The project was another example of Beijing’s efforts to push its companies to develop coal-fired plants overseas. Even as China’s investment in renewable energy projects at home has soared, Chinese corporations have been building hundreds of coal plants abroad, some in countries that today burn little or no coal. This push has included African countries, where the promise of subsidized development was a draw for governments to welcome Chinese investment.
While the latest verdict delays the coal plant’s development, it doesn’t put an end to it. Amu Power can still apply for a new license or appeal the decision within the next month. For now, though, local communities are celebrating the win. “We’re now old, but we inherited a clean and healthy environment from our fathers, and it’s our duty to give our children a clean and healthy environment as well,” said the vice chair of NGO Save Lamu, Mohammed Mbwana.