-- Kenya has dismissed calls for the
cancellation of a multi-million dollar power purchase
agreement with Ethiopia in protest of a massive
hydropower project that water scientists say will
alter the lives of residents of Turkana region in
Prime Minister Raila Odinga said
despite ongoing efforts to expand electricity
generation through investments in green energy
initiatives, the demand for electric power in the
East African nation would continue to grow, which
justifies the need to import power from neighboring
Ethiopia to meet the shortfalls.
"We will lower the cost of
energy through the importation of power from
Ethiopia," Odinga said late on Wednesday.
Environmentalists say the 1.7 billion
U.S. dollar hydropower project would alter the lives
of half a million residents of Lake Turkana and other
regions neighboring Sothern Ethiopia.
There are fears that the Omo River,
which supplies water to the Gibe III Dam under
construction, would affect water levels on Lake
Victoria if its course is altered as proposed in the
design of the power plant.
Kenyan parliamentarian, Ekwe Ethuro,
who represents Turkana, said his constituents were
deeply concerned that the environmental impact of
the project could far outweigh the benefits.
"Any project that alters the
flow and course of the Omo River will have
effects," Ethuro said.
Odinga said Nairobi was aware of the
environmental impacts the Dam project would have on
the residents of Turkana, but insisted the analysis by
Kenyan scientists working on the project showed it
would be temporary.
"Omo River is the biggest that
flows into Turkana.
"Our concern it (project) will
undermine the flow of the river.
"Our scientists are working on
"It is true there will be a
disruption but this is temporary.
"The bulk of the water will
flow into the irrigation project," Odinga said,
to much parliamentary opposition.
Odinga said although there were
possible environmental impacts, Kenya was in no
position to stop Ethiopia from using the waters of Omo
River as a resource.
"We have engaged Ethiopia
"Ethiopia will sell electricity
to us and we are financing this project because it
will lower the cost of energy," Odinga
The two governments formed a joint
council to deal with matters arising as a result of
the use of the Omo River waters, amid complaints from
international non governmental organizations.
Kenya aims to raise its annual
electricity output to 15,000 megawatts while Ethiopia’s
target is to raise electric power production to 37,000
MW and become the region’s biggest exporter of
The two countries signed a power
purchase agreement in 2011 and agreed on the terms of
constructing a regional power inter- connector to link
their grids and implement the regional trade in
Odinga said although Kenya has
embarked on the construction of a 300MW wind power
project in Turkana to plug the massive electricity
demand gap, it still required the additional power
The 843 million dollar wind power
project is receiving funding from the African
Development Bank (AfDB) and it would be based at the
Loyangalani in Turkana.
In July, the World Bank announced its
approval for a 684 million dollar loan for Ethiopia
and Kenya to construct the 1,000 km transmission line
from the Gibe III power project, currently on its
Out of the amount, Kenya received
441 million dollars while Ethiopia received 243
The other two phases of the project
have suffered periodic mechanical failures with a
tunnel collapse in 2010 disrupting electricity supply
for several months.