US to back Kenya wind project

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta

The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has approved an investment guarantee of up to $250m to support construction of the 310MW Lake Turkana Wind Power project in northern Kenya.

The agency joins several development finance institutions as well as private lenders in providing financing for what it says will be the single largest wind power project in Africa. The agency did not name the other lenders in a press release.

OPIC, the US government’s development finance institution, is playing a key role in President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, which aims to catalyze private investors to produce 10GW of new energy for the more than 600 million Sub-Saharan Africans currently living without power.

It has committed to provide $1.5bn to develop energy projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years in support of the initiative.

The power produced by the Lake Turkana project will be a significant contribution to both the Power Africa Initiative and to Kenya, where less than 25% of the population has access to power.

OPIC says the project when fully operational will support 200 full-time jobs.

President Barack Obama's father was born in Kenya. The senior Obama died there in 1982. President Obama has not visited the country since taking office in January 2009 but did as a young man.

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