A top Kenyan court on Wednesday blocked the East African country’s hopes of becoming the first coal-powered nation in the region.
Kenya had plans to build a $2 billion coal-fired power plant utilizing newly found 400 million tons of coal in eastern Kenya amid strong resistance from conservationists and local communities.
In its ruling, the High Court found that the government did not take into account health and environmental effects that the planned coal-fired plant would have on the town of Lamu, a UN world heritage site located on the coast of Kenya.
Environmentalists and health experts say inhaling coal dust can cause a myriad of diseases and would reduce carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange on mangroves and other plants.
The partly Chinese-funded coal power plant would generate 1,050 megawatts (MW) of electricity feeding into Kenya’s national grid, which is already 85% powered by renewable energy, including a wind power farm that is the largest in Africa.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Omar Elmawi of the DeCOALize campaign, who led numerous protests in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, welcomed the decision of the High Court: “This decision shows that the health of our communities and the health of Kenyans matters more than our government’s thirst for energy which we currently don’t need”.
By Magdalene Mukami in Nairobi, Kenya