Jordanian Firm May Benefit from Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah’

Jordanian power company Clean Energy Concepts (CEC) could benefit from Kenya’s ambitious multi-billion-dollar Konza Technology city, popularly known as the “Silicon Savannah,” located about 60 kilometres south of Nairobi, Africa.

CEC will build a $15 million solar power plant in the neighbourhood of the upcoming “Techno City,” one of Africa’s most ambitious ICT infrastructure projects.

While the city is already connected to power from various sources via the national grid, it needs an estimated 50 MW of power, much more than is available for use to the upcoming metropolis.

CEC is planning a 10-MW plant several kilometres from the site of the planned city in partnership with Kenya-based Riara University.

The university has set aside about 400 acres of land on which the project will be developed, subject to necessary approvals and negotiations with various authorities and parties involved.

“It is still early to predict what will happen since the project is at the initial stages of planning,” Asal Ghanim, CEC business development and projects development leader, told Renewable Energy World.

The Middle Eastern company is commencing feasibility on grid connectivity from its proposed site to the national grid.

It is also planning to enter power tariff negotiations with the government after which construction could start early next year should all go as planned.

The Kenyan venture will be the first outside Jordan by CEC, an indication that renewable energy companies were willing to explore markets outside the region, including in Africa.

The firm has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with the government of Jordan for its 10-MW solar facility in Ma’an Development Park.

Experts at Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) say the continued interest in Kenya by renewable energy investors is due to favourable tariffs for wind and solar power as well as availability of land.

Since January 2010, the Kenya government set its new feed-in-tariffs of US$0.10/kWh for solar and US$0.12/kWh for wind for amounts ranging from 500 kW to 10 MW of power.

On the other hand, construction of a 132-kV substation to supply the Techo City with high voltage power has been completed with upgrading set to continue, as more power becomes available and demand arises, according to Kenya’s ministry of Information and Communication Secretary, Victor Kyalo.

“An initial medium voltage power line has been installed on site to ensure that the electricity needs for investors are catered for, and we are on course to fulfilling our mandate to provide power to the technology hub,” said Kyalo.

The Silicon Savannah has delayed taking off since its conception 13 years ago due to a range of factors, including delays in the connection of vital services, such as power, water, roads and rows over land.

Government bureaucracy in procurement of critical infrastructure and services has also led to delays in commencement of physical development.

Lead image credit: Bernd Sieker | Flickr

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Maina Waruru is a freelance journalist with an interest in science and climate change issues. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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