Kenyans protest bid to build East Africa's first coal plant near popular tourist spot

Wednesday June 12, 2019

 

Scores of Kenyans on Wednesday protested a project to build a coal power station near the Lamu archipelago, a popular tourist spot that includes a UNESCO World Heritage site and vibrant marine life.


The power station, which has been in the planning stages for about six years, has faced fierce resistance from activists and local communities, and the National Environmental Tribunal is to rule on June 24 on the fate of the project.


A group of about 200 protesters carrying black coffins emblazoned with white skulls, as well as a miniature chimney spewing smoke, marched through downtown Nairobi on Wednesday chanting "coal is poisonous!"


"There is no need to build centralised dirty sources of energy such as coal to answer Kenya's energy demands, especially when the country is taking the lead in Africa with an 85-percent renewable energy base," said deCOALonize Campaign Coordinator, Omar Elmawi.


"With access to wind, solar, geo-thermal and tidal energy sources, Kenya's renewable energy potential is cost-efficient and causes no harm to the people and environment."


Campaigners argue the project is a costly and damaging venture that makes little sense at a time when most of the world is turning away from coal plants and investing in increasingly cheaper renewable energies.


"Countries are divesting away from coal and even China is moving away from coal investment towards renewable energy," Greenpeace representative Fredrick Njehu told AFP.


However, the government sees it as a way to spur economic growth, create jobs, and ensure Kenya's energy supply in the future.