Kenya coal media coverage 2020

A regularly updated compilation

(Looking for 2019 and earlier coverage? Click here.)

In January 2020, the Kenyan government confirmed its intention to move forward with the proposed Lamu coal plant. The Standard reported that “Kenya presses on with coal energy despite mounting concerns, and The Star and KTN News reported that Energy Cabinet Secretary planned to overcome challenges and move forward with coal energy.

The Standard published two (more) editorials calling on the country to “rethink investment in coal power [because the] world is moving on to safe energy” and that “African states should join rest of the world in reducing use of fossil fuels”.

In early February, Kenya Power (KPLC) signed contracts to develop a 90MW wind power plant in Lamu County. At the Kitui County rally of the political initiative Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) caravan (Daily Nation coverage), business tycoon Peter Muthoka cited coal energy as a “forgotten economic game-changer billed as the best alternative source of cheaper industrial power.” Subsequently PD.co.ke reported that “Residents reject coal mining plans over health [and environmental] concerns”.

On 1 April, The Star reported on a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) that analysed the Lamu coal plant’s financials and termed the project a “costly mistake”.

Opinion pieces in major newspapers spoke against coal industry development. Greenpeace Senior Political Advisor (and deCOALonize chair) Fred Njehu published several pieces in Business Daily: “The coal debate should now be revisited” (28 February), “Why Africa needs justice in energy investment plans” (31 March)

In February, Green Africa Foundation’s Isaac Kalua called for replacing coal mining with agribusiness, in a detailed op-ed. “The answer lies in finding an alternative project that will also be worth trillions in the long run. Unlike coal, this project shouldn’t sacrifice human and environmental health on the altar of economic growth… with sufficient investment, these farmers can anchor a large-scale agribusiness project that would eventually earn them the decent, healthy livelihoods that coal can never give them.”

In international news, Deutche Welle’s January analysis of divestment, risk, and fossil fuels noted, “Activists had long been protesting against the Lamu coal plant. But they weren’t the only ones — several investors and banks had also rejected the project.”

In February 2020, Mining Indaba news noted, “In Africa, where access to electricity is still a problem, coal-to-power projects could previously rely on support from development finance institutions. But even they are withdrawing under pressure. In November, the African Development Bank decided against funding a Kenya coal project that was halted by a local environmental tribunal in June.”

In early March, an exposé in the Los Angeles Times reported on US corporation General Electric (GE) making extensive investments in coal abroad, including potentially in Lamu coal plant, coinciding with a MarketForces campaign.

Also in early March, Business daily reported, “The African Development Bank (AfDB) has hired a Kenyan executive to head its clean energy push almost four months after it made a last-minute withdrawal from the Lamu coal project over environmental concerns” (“AfDB taps Kenyan for energy docket after Lamu plant hitch”).

6 May: Bloomberg detailed the Chinese financing of overseas coal, including about Lamu coal plant investors ICBC, PowerChina, and SINOSURE. Further reporting highlighted that “China Is Virtually Alone in Backing Africa’s Coal Projects”. It includes another Belt & Road project to be funded and built by the same Chinese companies: Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, PowerChina, SINOSURE.

25 September: Business Daily announced GE’s exit from Lamu coal plant. However, it seems entirely based on GE’s announcement about extricating themselves from the “new build coal plant market” — and nothing specific to Lamu coal. NRDC’s Get Out of Coal campaign and Save Lamu will push GE for confirmation of their status.

6 October: The Times in South Africa published an opinion piece by Caiphus Kgosana entitled “Kenya must learn from South Africa’s mistakes and spurn the coal

22 October: The Star reports: “Disclose your plans or quit, Kitui coal mine contractors told” (by local community NGO CHRCE)

Expanded links to reporting (Jan-May) in reverse chronological order

6 May 2020: About Chinese financing of coal in Africa, including another Belt & Road project to be funded and built by the same Chinese companies: Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, PowerChina, SINOSURE

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-06/belt-and-road-china-stands-alone-in-backing-africa-coal-projects

1 April: Reporting on an economic analysis advising against Lamu coal plant from IEEFA (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis)

31 March: from Greenpeace’s Fred Njehu

26 March: “UN Faults Kenya’s Proposed 5,000MW Kilifi Coal Plant” (though as far as we know, a Kilifi plant was considered in the past but is not being pursued)

5 March: “AfDB taps Kenyan for energy docket after Lamu plant hitch”

3 March: Los Angeles Times (US) on General Electric (GE), including its investment in Lamu coal plant

28 February: Greenpeace’s Fred Njeu in Business Daily

21 February: Editorial in the Standard

19 February

18 February

17 February

Letter to the Editor published in Business Daily by Fred Njehu of Greenpeace:

“Also signed are agreements for construction of 1,050 megawatt (MW) Coal Power Plant in Lamu…”

12 February in The Citizen (Tanzania)

11 February in The Standard

10 February in the Citizen (Tanzania) and AllAfrica

6 February: KPLC signs Power Purchase Agreement for 90MW wind power plant in Lamu (unrelated to coal)

Following 3 February tweet from Embassy of Belgium @BelgiuminKenya: “KPLC signs a 20 year power purchase agreement with Bahari Wind Ltd. The Belgian expertise of Elicio will create a 90MW project in Lamu county #Kenya, the third largest wind project.”

4 February 2020 on Mining Indaba, with this section on Lamu coal plant:

“In Africa, where access to electricity is still a problem, coal-to-power projects could previously rely on support from development finance institutions. But even they are withdrawing under pressure. In November, the African Development Bank decided against funding a Kenya coal project that was halted by a local environmental tribunal in June.”

2 February 2020:

1 February 2020: Benefits of coal mining, included in Building Bridges Initiative plans, extolled at caravan rally in Kitui County, by businessman Peter Muthoka (at length) and Makueni Governor Kibwana

23 January 2020:

22 January 2020: KTN interview with Energy CS Keter

17 January 2020: on divestment & fossil fuels, featuring Lamu coal plant:

“The planned coal-fired power station near the coastal town of Lamu was conceived to help expand the power grid in Kenya’s underserved north. But half a year ago, the project was put on hold. A Kenyan court ordered that the risk of environmental damage to the coastal region be reassessed. Activists had long been protesting against the Lamu coal plant. But they weren’t the only ones — several investors and banks had also rejected the project…”

12 January 2020: Reporting and an editorial from The Standard

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Coal in Kenya

Compiled research and news about ongoing attempts to develop a coal industry in Kenya. #deCOALonize