African Development Bank pulls out of Kenya’s controversial Lamu coal project

African Development Bank. (moderndiplomacy)
  • AfDB has announced that it will not fund the coal-fired power plant project in Kenya and has no plans to finance new coal plants in future.
  • AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said that the bank took environmental concerns seriously and was focusing on renewable energy.
  • The AfDB’s retreat from coal will now make it harder for the Lamu project to progress.

Environmental activists have a reason to smile after one of the biggest backers of the controversial Lamu coal project decided to pull out of the project citing environmental concerns.

African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced that it will not fund the coal-fired power plant project in Kenya and has no plans to finance new coal plants in future.

AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said that the bank took environmental concerns seriously and was focusing on renewable energy, adding that coal-fired power plant projects risked becoming “stranded assets” on the AfDB’s balance sheet.

Wale Shonibare, AfDB’s acting vice president for energy, added that the bank did not move forward with the Lamu Coal transaction and had no plans to do so in the future.

The Abidjan-based lender had earlier published an environmental and social impact assessment for the Lamu project, which was planned near a Unesco World Heritage Site but was halted by a local environmental tribunal.

In September this year, the AfDB president told UN climate talks that the bank was “getting out of coal” but he did not give a timeframe or specify whether the Lamu project would be affected.

The AfDB’s retreat from coal will now make it harder for the Lamu project to progress.

Save Lamu, Lamu Youth Alliance and Lamu Marine Forum organization are just some of the few environmental activists who have been especially vocal in their opposition to the proposed Sh200 billion ($2 billion) Lamu coal fired power plant.

The Lamu marine environment contains a diversity of land and seascapes including mangroves, mudflats, lagoons, sand dunes, beaches, sand islands, raised reef islands, sea-grass beds and coral reefs.

It is feared all these Lamu’s diverse marine life may be disappear and go up in smoke with the establishing of the coal plant.

In June, 2019 the project received a further blow after the National Environmental Tribunal ruled that authorities had failed to do a thorough environmental assessment.

Campaign group deCOALonize had taken Nema to court, saying it had not taken note of the adverse effects the project would have on farmlands and the local fishing industry.

"We welcome this decision because it shows that communities cannot be taken for granted," Omar Elmawi, DeCOALize campaign coordinator, told the BBC.

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