AfDB backs Lake Turkana with $150m

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has got behind the long-delayed Lake Turkana wind farm in Kenya by approving €115m ($150.5m) in financing for the 300MW plant, and says it will lead renewed efforts to get the project underway.

The AfDB said the decision of the Kenyan government to build a 428km transmission link was crucial to its decision to back the project, which is also being supported by a group of investors including Danish wind equipment group Vestas.

The wind farm – which is slated to use Vestas 850kW turbines – has been the subject of several false dawns, with construction originally due to start in mid-2011, before being pushed back to the end of that year, then into 2012, and then going quiet.

The AfDB says it will take a “lead role in developing what will be the largest wind power project in Africa”. It will spearhead efforts to raise more than €127m in senior debt and a further €58m of subordinated loans.

The bank will promote the project to the public and further potential investors via a series of presentations next month.

At the request of the Kenyan government, it is also providing a partial guarantee against the risk of delays to the construction of the transmission line, “thereby providing additional comfort to prospective lenders”.

The wind farm has been in the offing since 2006 when Dutch-based development consortium Lake Turkana Wind Power was set up.

AfDB says the wind farm will complement other initiatives in thermal and renewable power it is backing in Kenya.