Kenyatta kin in Sh11bn Ngong wind energy plan

Last week, the African Development Bank (AfDB) pledged to fund the development of the 300 megawatt Turkana Wind Power project, one of the single largest wind farms in Africa. Photo/FILE

A company associated with the family of founding President Jomo Kenyatta is set to invest Sh11 billion ($130 million) in a wind power project that could be one of Kenya’s single biggest private sector projects.
The 50 megawatts wind farm is to be located in the Ngong Hills area, according to regulatory filings seen by the Business Daily.

Ngengi Muigai, a former MP for Gatundu and cousin of deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, is listed as chairman of Prunus Energy Limited, the firm behind the project.

The wind farm could become the third major power generation project in the area in addition to a 5.1 megawatt plant owned by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), which is already operating and the planned 100 megawatt plant by American company, GE Energy.

Efforts to get comments from Prunus Energy were unsuccessful as Jane Muigai Briggs, who is listed as a director of the company, said she was out of the country and could only answer our questions after her return this week.

The Business Daily could not immediately establish whether Prunus Energy is backed by other investors other than the Muigais.

The energy sector has become a magnet for investors keen on profiting from the lucrative electricity generation business, owing to rising demand that has raced ahead of supply.

“Faced with the current situation where Kenya’s electricity supplies are unreliable and expensive, the installation of a 50 megawatt wind power project will contribute significantly to the stabilisation of the Kenyan power situation,” said the documents filed with the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) dated September.

Mr Muigai, who succeeded the late President Kenyatta as the Gatundu legislator, could also not be reached for comment on the financing options that the company is pursuing for development of the mega project.

The high profile power project represents a major diversification for the Kenyatta family that has interests spanning different sectors of the economy ranging from banking, food processing and real estate.

Other details contained in the firm’s application to the environmental watchdog Nema indicate that the project would involve the installation of 25 wind turbines over an area of about 400 acres within the Ngong Forest.

Already, the Kenya Forest Service has approved of the project, which now awaits clearance from Nema and the Energy Regulatory Commission.
The heightened investment in the wind power segment indicates a shift in the economy to cleaner and cheaper energy sources amid rising demand emerging from increased industrial and domestic use.

Last week, the African Development Bank (AfDB) pledged to fund the development of the 300 megawatt Turkana Wind Power project, one of the single largest wind farms in Africa.

The AfDB’s commitment came after the withdrawal of the World Bank as the main guarantor for the Sh68 billion project whose backers include a consortium of foreign institutional investors including the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, Norfund and the Industrial Fund for Developing Countries Denmark.

GE Energy has announced plans to invest Sh25 billion on wind power in the same locality.

The US firm said last week that it would provide 30 per cent of the project financing, equal to about Sh7.5 billion and the rest through loans.

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