Kenya is edging closer to marking a milestone in generation of nuclear energy after concluding the process of analysis and selection of potential sites.
The process is the first of the three stages to be carried out by the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB), which is mandated to fast-track implementation and establish additional 1,000 megawatt (MW) plants in the next eight years.
Initial plans have indicated that locations around Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and the Indian Ocean have been earmarked as potential sites due to their sustainable water sources.
The large water bodies are selected due to the huge amounts of the resource required for cooling reactors.
KNEB chief executive officer Collins Juma said the board is currently conducting a screening exercise for potential sites identified to come up with candidate locations as they expedite development of nuclear electricity in Kenya.
“The board is in the process of selecting a qualified firm to develop terms of reference for site characterisation for nuclear power plants in Kenya after it closed international tender notice,” he said during a stakeholders’ dialogue forum in Kisumu.
He pointed out that the scope of work for the consultancy shall also include spelling out of a comprehensive description of all activities to be undertaken during site characterisation.
A consultancy team is expected to comprise a multi-disciplinary team of experts who have expertise in earth sciences, civil/geotechnical/nuclear engineers, environmental specialists and meteology experts registered by their relevant accredited professional bodies.
Completion of screening of potential sites will give way to the third and last phase, which involves comparison of the candidate locations to come up with the proposed site,
“The best candidate sites will then be subjected to a weighted analysis and the best two will be designated as ‘proposed site’ and ‘alternate site’.
Mr Juma assured Kenyans of the reliability and safety of nuclear electricity, adding that they have signed pacts with Russia, China and South Korea as they eye to begin construction of Kenya’s first nuclear power plant by 2024.
“Operation of a nuclear plant does not have adverse effects to humans and the environment. Kenya has identified the global safety requirements for the set-up and receiving global support,” he said.
In order to realise the development agenda stipulated in Kenya Vision 2030, said KNEB technical officer Edwin Chesire, studies have shown that the country will require more than 16,000MW of electricity.
Currently, Kenya is generating more than 2,300MW from various energy sources including hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind.
“Under the 500MW plus initiative, coal and gas will be tapped alongside geothermal and wind,” added Mr Chesire.
He said Kenya is on track to generate nuclear electricity by 2027 as they plan to churn out an equivalent of 42 percent of the country’s current installed electricity capacity.
There are currently 438 nuclear power reactors in operation worldwide with a total installed capacity of 374,301MW and 71 nuclear power reactors under construction.
The industry is experiencing a boon of newcomer countries that have expressed intentions to embark on nuclear power programmes.
Other countries include Turkey, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Uganda and the neighbouring Tanzania.
Kenya to import mitumba after coronavirus pandemic
Kenya is set to lift the ban on imports of second-hand clothes once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, the Industry, Trade and Co-operatives Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina has said.
The Cabinet Secretary last Wednesday announced an immediate temporary suspension of the importation of second-hand clothes as a measure to stop importing the SARs-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19 disease.
Ms Maina said the action taken is in line with the conditions as set out by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).
“The government has suspended importation of second-hand clothes with immediate effect to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles in the wake of coronavirus,” said Ms Maina.
“Most of the Mitumba imports come from China and Pakistan, countries which are the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision is intended to safeguard Kenyans against the spreading of the coronavirus and is therefore a health issue,” she said.
In an interview with the The EastAfrican, Ms Maina said the Kebs will enforce the suspension as we wait for the situation to improve.
“It is a requirement by the Kebs to take such an action in times of an epidemic like the Covid-19,” she said.
A recent study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the virus can stay longer on different surfaces, including clothes.
Ms Maina, however, said the temporary ban will not in any way affect the policy on Mitumba imports from the US.
Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Kenya sold about Ksh40 billion ($400m) worth of textiles and clothing to the US.
“This does not in any way affect our policy on our imports from the US. The decision is strictly an urgent measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus,” added Ms Maina.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.