LOIYANGALANI, Kenya – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated on Friday Africa’s largest wind farm, a 310-MW power station located in a remote area near Lake Turkana that will supply 15 percent of that East African nation’s electricity.
Amid an atmosphere of music and dancing, Kenyatta was welcomed by a colorfully dressed delegation representing the region’s different ethnic groups before he delivered his inaugural speech.
“Today we again raise the bar for the continent as we unveil Africa’s single-largest wind farm, the Lake Turkana Wind Park project,” the president told a large crowd of government officials and business leaders.
“Kenya is without a doubt on course to become a world leader in renewable energy.”
Kenyatta, who landed in the town of Loiyangalani after traveling more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) by plane from Nairobi, said the development of renewable energy is key to bringing about Kenya’s socio-economic transformation.
The impressive Lake Turkana Wind Power plant, which covers an area of more than 40,000 hectares (154 square miles) in the northwestern county of Marsabit, consists of 365 turbines, each with an 850-kilowatt capacity.
Difficulty in accessing this vast, arid and historically neglected region, a lack of infrastructure (a 200-kilometer highway needed to be built) and the search for shareholders, among other reasons, meant it took more than 10 years to complete the project.
For his part, the executive director of the LTWP plant, Rizwan Fazal, told EFE that the project would undoubtedly position Kenya among the world’s leading countries in terms of renewable energy consumption.
The 680-million-euro ($762.8-million) cost of the wind farm, shared among the public and private sectors, marks the single largest private investment in Kenya’s history.
The European Investment Bank, the European Union’s lending arm, provided 200 million euros, while the EU itself contributed 25 million euros.
The transmission line that connects the wind farm with the national electricity grid was partially built by Spanish company Isolux Corsan.
But after that company declared bankruptcy in 2017, the project was completed by a Chinese consortium.
The project’s location is considered ideal because of that region’s year-round windy conditions.
Besides its push for wind energy, Kenya also boasts important geothermal plants near Lake Naivasha, as well as various solar energy projects in the country’s north.