As Africa continues to navigate its energy transition, many African leaders are responding to calls from the global environmental community to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. They are issuing a strong message defending the critical importance of oil and gas development to their economic growth.
During Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to the white house as the first African leader to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House, he summed up the views of many Africans when pushed by Biden on fighting climate change.
“We are also keenly very grateful with his strong position, especially with regard to climate change. This is an area where Kenya has made tremendous progress in her own right and where we are firmly committed to the Paris Agreement, and we’re glad to see the United States has now rejoined”. Stated President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“And we look forward to working very closely together on that particular agenda, which, as you know, our country, our continent is the least in terms of emitting but pays the highest price. So, we welcome your leadership in this area, and I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss that further with you”. Concluded President Kenyatta.
In Kenya, where significant new oil discoveries are paving the way forward and electrical connectivity is now the highest in East Africa, the country’s leadership is successfully modeling an energy strategy that honors the dual priorities of economic growth and environmental sustainability.
John Munyes, Cabinet Secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mining will join leaders of other African oil- and gas-producing countries at Africa Energy Week organized by the African Energy Chamber, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in Cape Town next month.
In April 2021, Kenya achieved a remarkable milestone — an electricity access rate of over 75%, now the highest in East Africa. Between 2013 and 2021, the number of connections grew from 2.3 million to 8.2 million, representing an annualized increase of 5.6%, the largest among the top-20 countries in the world with the biggest electricity access gap.
This dramatic improvement is a tremendous victory for Kenya. Kenyans have made great strides in economic, social, and human development over the past decade, and our progress in the energy sector is particularly significant.
But a quarter of all Kenyans still lack access to electricity. No discussion of our role in the energy transition is possible without addressing the issue of energy poverty and the critical importance of achieving universal access for all Kenyans. Electricity is the basic building block of socioeconomic growth and ensuring that all Kenyans have connectivity remains an urgent priority.
That’s why we are disheartened by the continuing calls to scale back and even abandon Kenya’s oil and gas development efforts. We believe the ongoing transformation of the global energy sector is opening possibilities for Kenya, along with many other developing countries, to reach our energy access and service delivery goals at a lower cost and more sustainably while also combating climate change.
Our objective is to provide clean, affordable, reliable, secure, and high-quality energy for the economic development of our nation. This is not only possible, but critical to Kenya’s future — and it will require the full utilization of our fossil fuel resources.
Alleviating energy poverty is essential to Kenya’s economic empowerment, but it’s not the only issue. The manufacturing sector is another important pillar of Kenya’s growth. Sustainable industrialization, especially in the manufacturing sector, has the potential to create significant employment. In a recent statement, Betty Maina, Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, asserted that Kenya is poised to be a giant in the manufacturing and industrialization sector. She pointed to our efforts to scale up manufacturing as part of the “Big Four” agenda of our Vision 2030 initiative —
an initiative that requires abundant and reliable energy.
Sustainable industrialization and the alleviation of energy poverty are the foundation of Kenya’s economic empowerment. But they will only be possible through the active development of Kenya’s rich fossil resources. That’s why exploration is at the forefront of Kenya’s energy developmental agenda. With four sedimentary basins and the active presence of such industry giants as BP, Shell, Texas Pacific, Africa Oil Corporation, and Chevron, among others, we are hopeful about our ability to continue realizing our socioeconomic goals.
“The Lokichar Lamu Crude Oil Pipeline Project (LLCOP) is perhaps the strongest indicator of Kenya’s resource potential. There are over four billion barrels of crude oil reserves in the Lokichar sub-basin alone, of which 750 million are commercial, currently operated by Tullow Oil and its partners for this project. Tullow and its stakeholders recently increased their production estimates for this project by 50%, from 80,000 b/d to 120,000 b/d, with a gross recovery of 585 million barrels of oil over the life of the project” Stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.
“Investments by these majors play a significant role in creating jobs, building local capacity, and growing and diversifying our economy. What’s more, by building infrastructure and pursuing regional cooperation, as Kenya is doing through its participation in the Lamu Port project and the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project, Kenya is playing a role in promoting growth, stability, and prosperity throughout East Africa”. Added Ayuk
It’s important to note that as Kenya develops its hydrocarbon industry and promote the sustainable development of its extractives sector, Kenya is making environmental protection a priority. In fact, Kenya is emerging as a global leader in renewable energy. Most of its electricity is already generated by renewable sources, with geothermal ranked the second-biggest source of installed power generation after hydroelectricity.
Wind and solar energy are also a growing segment of our environmental strategy. The Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant, launched in 2019, is Africa’s largest wind power farm. It provides 310 megawatts of reliable low-cost energy to the national grid, increasing Kenya’s electricity supply by 13%. The 50 MW Garissa solar power plant, the largest in East and Central Africa, has created an uninterrupted power supply in an area long afflicted with ongoing power blackouts. The project has significantly reduced energy costs and is contributing about 2% of the national energy mix, as well as revitalizing the local economy. Kenya’s environmental preservation efforts are making a difference and western nations should learn from Kenya.
The AEC has been lucky to have Elizabeth Rogo leading our East African Region and also Ogutu Okudo on our advisory board. They bring a strong and unique perspective on the energy industry which has benefited Kenya and the region and so many who need energy access. As we join our colleagues at the African Energy Chamber’s Africa Energy Week conference in Cape Town next month, we look forward to a dialogue with other African leaders who share our conviction that a successful energy transition — one that benefits Kenya and its people — is our right and responsibility. This is only possible if we continue the active and strategic development of our fossil fuels. We are on course to achieve our growth objectives with this strategy, and we must maintain the momentum we’ve achieved thus far.
We are determined to ensure an energy transition that liberates and empowers Kenya — and Africa — as fully participating global citizens of the 21st century. With strong government leadership, as well as private sector investment and support from development partners, we can create the future that is rightfully ours.