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Coal Power Plant in Lamu, Kenya


Description:

The kick off the construction was planned for December 7, 2015.  However in August 2016 there were still delays. By 2019 the project was suspended.

The Lamu County Assembly rejected an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report by investors on the coal-fired power plant.  The assembly wants the project owners to come up with a resettlement plan for residents who will lose their land to the project. The plant is to be set up at Kwasasi in Hindi by Amu Power Company. So far, 600 land owners expected to be affected. (Daily Nation 10 Aug. 2016). Amu Power Company, which was formed by Gulf Energy, Centum Investments and Power Construction Corporation of China, had planned the 981.5-megawatt plant – Kenya's first ever coal project. Lamu coal-fired power plant is part of the government's plans to generate 1,920MW of electricity from coal by December 2017.

The conflict - Nr 1. Kenya has no coal and wish to import from South Africa. Using foreign coal Instead of sun, wind energy just because is cheaper; - 2. Lamu Area is a untouched nature paradise, the population lives from soft tourism, fishing and agriculture which can be totally destroyed by the pollution caused by a coal plant.- We also fear the desalination system from the water cooling destroys the rich see life and the fine particle in the air which can effect the health of the population.

3. Locals does not want the project but they was not asked or informed, which is against the Kenya Constitution.

4.

The construction will be built by Chinese, no trust in the environmental safety.

5. The local governance has no power against the multinational powers 6. The local activists tried to inform the population and call for opposition, but they have been drilled by the police.

Amu faced intense hostility from activists who claim pollutants generated from coal combustion have profound effects on the health of local communities and should not be allowed in Lamu. Save Lamu, a community-based organisation, leads residents in mounting pressure on the county government to halt the project, thus throwing the Sh200 billion plant into doubt. According to an article in The Guardian, the organisation has already presented Lamu Govenor Issa Timamy with a signed petition to stop the project. The county’s head of health, Mohamed Abubakar, is hopeful that an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) will lay out how Amu Power will mitigate against the damaging effects of the plant.

By 2019, a court decision stopped the project, for the time being.(2019).

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Coal Power Plant in Lamu, Kenya
Country:Kenya
State or province:Lamu District
Location of conflict:Lamu
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity
Coal

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

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.

Project area:350
Level of Investment:2,000,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:50,000-100,000, maybe more
Start of the conflict:2015
Company names or state enterprises:Amu Power from Kenya
Centum Investment Group from Kenya
Gulf Energy Ltd
Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) from China
International and Finance InstitutionsIndustrial and Commercial Bank of China
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Save Lamu
Muhuri
Sierra Club
UNESCO World Heritage
350.org

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsRespiratory illnesses
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement
Other socio-economic impactsDisplacement of at least 600 landowners is looming as a large issue.

Outcome

Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:As of August 2016, the project is slowly going ahead despite strong local protests - often led by women. Relatively strong support from NGOs from outside Kenya, because Lamu is a famous tourist destination.
By June 2019 the project was stopped by a court decision.

Sources and Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Capital Business, 18 Sept 2016, by Margaret Wahito
http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/business/2015/09/amu-power-to-get-lamu-title-in-october/

Star, Work on Lamu coal plant set to begin in December, Sep. 19, 2015, by MARTIN MWITA
http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/work-lamu-coal-plant-set-begin-december

Mediamax, Lamu coal power plant runs into headwinds, by Seth Onyango, March 08, 2016
http://www.mediamaxnetwork.co.ke/people-daily/205104/lamu-coal-power-plant-runs-into-headwinds/

Anthony Langat, 3 March 2016, The Guardian. Locals oppose plans to build first coal-fired power plant in Kenya. As Kenya plans to construct its first coal-fired power plant, a group of 30 community-based organisations is fighting to halt the multibillion dollar project.
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/mar/03/locals-oppose-plans-to-build-first-coal-fired-power-plant-in-kenya

Daily Nation, Lamu County puts coal-fired power plant on hold. Assembly demands resettlement plan for residents who will lose their land. August 10, 2016, by Kalume Kazungu
http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/County-puts-coal-fired-power-plant-on-hold/1107872-3338788-xea0y3z/index.html

(1) QUARTZ, by Abdi Latif Dahir, June 27, 2019, the scheme to build Kenya and east Africa’s first coal plant has been stopped
https://qz.com/africa/1653947/kenya-court-stops-china-backed-lamu-coal-plant-project/

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Lamu Power Project



This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

Center for Media and Democracy. The Lamu Power Project is a proposed 1,050-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Lamu County, Kenya.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Lamu_Power_Project

Kenya: Lamu County Puts Coal-Fired Power Plant On Hold, 9 Aug. 2016, Daily Nation, by Kalume Kazungu
http://allafrica.com/stories/201608100091.html

Standard, 21 July 2016, Lamu residents get 30 days to air views on coal project, by Patrick Beja. http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000209325/lamu-residents-get-30-days-to-air-views-on-coal-project
http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000209325/lamu-residents-get-30-days-to-air-views-on-coal-projects

From 350.org, Growing resistance to Lamu Coal Power Station, 2 May 2016
http://350africa.org/2016/05/02/growing-resistance-to-halt-the-first-coal-fired-power-plant-in-kenya/

Other documents

Lamu County Representative Shakila Abdalla (right), flanked by the County's Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation chair Hindu Salim (2nd right), among others, adresses the media at the Island of Lamu in Lamu County on Sunday, 29th November, 2015 when she led locals in a demonstration protesting against Amu Power Company for the planned construction of a coal plant in the county, saying it was a health hazard to the locals. (PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/ STANDARD)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Lamu_coal_power_station_.jpg

Other comments:According to the Sierra Club, the proposed Lamu plant does not employ the best available technology to limit pollution, and it will begin operation without Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to reduce nitrogen oxides. The proposal is also home to the World Heritage listed Lamu Old Town. A 2015 report on the area from Unesco’s World Heritage Committee stated that “[t]here can be no doubt that a project of this scale and scope, in an area as remote and protected as Lamu, cannot help but have profound negative impacts on the heritage." Both Save Lamu and another group that are campaigning on the issue, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), say they will take their concerns to court if the project is permitted.

Meta information

Last update26/08/2019

Images

 

Lamu County Representative Shakila Abdalla (right), flanked by the County's Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation chair Hindu Salim (2nd right), among others, adresses the media at the Island of Lamu in Lamu County on Sunday, 29th November, 2015 when she led locals in a demonstration protesting against Amu Power Company for the planned construction of a coal plant in the county, saying it was a health hazard to the locals. (PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/ STANDARD) Lamu County Representative Shakila Abdalla (right), flanked by the County's Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation chair Hindu Salim (2nd right), among others, adresses the media at the Island of Lamu in Lamu County on Sunday, 29th November, 2015 when she led locals in a demonstration protesting against Amu Power Company for the planned construction of a coal plant in the county, saying it was a health hazard to the locals. (PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/ STANDARD)