Kenya is targeting a GDP growth of 20 percent by 2022. This is a very ambitious target.
Anchoring this growth is the Big Four Agenda, the pillars of which are manufacturing, food security and nutrition, universal health coverage and affordable housing.
The unspoken that underpins the Big Four Agenda is reliable supply of electricity. Energy drives production and every country that has successfully industrialised has had a consistent and reliable supply of energy.
The key word here is reliability. Kenya has made significant investments in wind and geothermal power to diversify its energy mix and become less reliant on hydrothermal and thermal energy.
But there is a more reliable energy source that has proven itself globally and shows great potential. This is nuclear energy. Kenya is in a unique development phase regarding its domestic energy supply.
In the recent past, Kenya has grappled with unsustainable, expensive and unreliable energy mix, hence a challenge in attainment of the country’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030.
The Least Cost Power Development Plan 2017 — 2037 that is Kenya’s Energy strategic plan as well as an energy policy document envisages a clean, sustainable and renewable energy supply, also underscores the need to have a balanced, diversified energy basket and nuclear is among those being considered.
Importantly, the country has been keen to implement recommendations by the International Atomic Energy Agency carried out during the Integrated Nuclear infrastructure Review programme in mid-2016.
The Cabinet has also approved the proposed Nuclear Regulatory Bill, 2017 and it is scheduled to be tabled in Parliament. This is part of the preparatory work being undertaken to prepare Kenya for nuclear energy investments.
To achieve sustainable energy supply, it is imperative Kenya develops nuclear power that is cost-effective and reliable.
There are significant benefits from this. A modern nuclear power plant can supply uninterrupted power for 60-80 years at a predictable and affordable price, which is not drastically affected by the volatility of the global commodity market.
At the same time, nuclear energy is a key component of a clean and sustainable energy strategy. Nuclear reactors emit zero greenhouse gases throughout their entire life cycle.
Also, the technology will enhance the attainment of the requirements of sustainable development goal number seven on access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030, as well as contribute significantly to achieving Paris Climate goals.
Kenya can be among Africa’s biggest economic success stories given its record of accomplishments.
These include a dynamic private sector; a highly innovative and skilled workforce; improved infrastructure; and increased growth from foreign direct investment.
Unfortunately, unreliable energy remains a key obstacle on its path to economic growth.
Authored By: DANIEL NJOROGE THUO (Thuo is an Energy Economist and Adviser at The Africa Utility Forum. firstname.lastname@example.org)
SOURCE: DAILY NATION