United States (US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a virtual Kenya-US Inter-agency Clean Energy event. PHOTO/TWITTER
By PATRICK MAYOYO
Kenya is not only a leader in the region, but also is poised to become a global leader for clean energy and climate action United States (US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has been told.
Mr Mark Meassick, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kenya while speaking during a virtual Kenya-US Inter-agency Clean Energy event said currently, 90 percent of Kenya’s power is generated from renewable sources with 40 percent generated from geothermal, 45 percent from hydropower, and the remainder from wind and solar.
“Our assistance facilitated over 3 million off-grid and on-grid connections for homes and businesses across the country, bringing electricity to over 10 million Kenyans for the first time,” Mr Meassick said.
Secretary Blinken is on a virtual tour of Africa, Kenya included that will provide him with a glimpse of the nearly $600 million in U.S. financing across geothermal, wind, and solar renewable energy investments.
Those who participated in the virtual Kenya-US Inter-agency Clean Energy event included Secretary Blinken and Vibhuti Jain, regional managing director for Africa at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, or DFC.
Others were Lisa Walker, energy office director for Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led initiative to connect 60 million new homes and businesses across sub-Saharan Africa to clean energy and Dr Kenneth Namunje the managing director of Kipeto Energy Ltd and Emily Fertik, an Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, among others.
Mr Blinken said he was very proud that the US was a strong supporter of Kenya’s efforts to embrace clean energy.
“I’m really eager to ask some questions about your work and Kenya’s clean energy sector, because I think a lot can be learned from the progress your companies and the country have made toward providing sustainable energy to the Kenyan people. There are lessons there that go well beyond Kenya,” he said.
The US Secretary of State said his government has invested around $230 million in loans that the Development Finance Corporation provided to Kipeto and – Wind Farm, but also technical support like the kind Power Africa gives to Powerhive to help build the 23 mini grids.
“These and other American investments in Kenyan hydropower, solar, wind projects have helped Kenya reach a point where – this is remarkable – more than 90 percent of its electricity now comes from renewable energy sources,” he added.
Mr Blinken said Kenya was now on track to provide universal energy access by 2022 a development he noted was very good for the Kenyan people, it’s economy and good for the planet.
“I think there’s something very powerful going on,” he observed.
Secretary Blinken said the only way the world is going to address the climate crisis is by reducing the world’s carbon emissions, and that means, ultimately, clean and renewable energy.
“So we need to help more countries do what Kenya has done and we need to raise our ambitions on climate more broadly. Our administration, the Biden-Harris administration, is committed to reclaiming America’s leadership on this front. As you know, on day one, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, and we will meet our domestic commitments,” he emphasized.
He added that there was also need for smaller-scale projects like Powerhive, which will reach low-income communities that have never had electricity before and this can help meet our sustainability goals without writing off communities that are harder to reach.
You can access the full interview here.