Lamu County is a located at the coastline of Kenya, a county which is known for its unique biodiversity. It is rich in natural resources including marine resources/ecosystems such as hectares of mangrove forests, which provide a profusion of marine life. The local Lamu communities depend on these resources for their livelihoods. Lamu has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its contribution to world culture.
Since 2013 the Kenya Government has laid out plans to develop Lamu, one of the developments includes a 1,050 MW coal-fired electricity plant,the first coal powered plant in Kenya, indeed in the whole of Africa, except for South Africa. The Project will be located in the Kwasasi Area of Lamu County, 21km from Lamu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Plant will be operated by operated by a private company, Amu Power (a merger of two Kenyan companies, Gulf Energy and Centum). Project will cost an estimate of $2 billion and will be financed by company equity (25%) and 75% debt.
The Kenya national government and project financiers have been optimistic and focused on the important economic benefits from the coal plant activity, especially in consider ion of the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor. They have projected the creation of 1000-2000 jobs, increase in local economy and industries. However, local community and environmental advocates have expressed concern over the significant negative social and environmental impacts of the project.
A local community organization and a key partner of deCOALonize campaign, Save Lamu, has been active in lobbying on key concerns over the projects. Key concerns are:
- Inadequate public consultation and participation
- Inaccurate and inadequate environmental impact assessment report
- Improper and unprocedural land acquisition plans
- Significant environmental and social impacts anticipated, especially on marine ecology whereas majority of Lamu community are dependent on the fisheries sector
- Lack of consideration of alternative energies
You can visit Save Lamu’s website www.savelamu.org to learn more about what the organization has been doing to advocate on the issue.
You can read the ESIA report of the project here (http://www.decoalonize.org/esia/), which experts have cited as being as inadequate.