The Winds of Change
Northern Kenya has wind. Lots of it. And it's integral to Africa's biggest wind farm, the new Lake Turkana Wind Power project. The Dutch consortium behind the farm built 365 giant wind turbines on the southeast corner of Lake Turkana, which can generate 300MW, or a quarter of Kenya’s current installed power. Despite several hold-ups, the project was completed two months ahead of schedule in 2017. However, while the turbines are ready to go, the Kenyan government has yet to complete the transmission line that connects the wind farm to its end users, so the facility is still inactive. The transmission line was expected to be completed in early 2018.
Turkana: Paved with 'Black Gold'
Northern Kenya, long ignored by the ruling elite in Nairobi, became much more in favour after 2012 when British company Tullow Oil discovered 'black gold' in the South Lokichar Basin. Further oil discoveries were made in 2017, which is likely to result in more companies heading up north looking for reserves. While not all Kenyans in the area are happy about the exploration, the development has resulted in improved infrastructure for the region. The area around Lokichar now has access to electricity, clean water and, eventually, a paved road up to Lodwar.
The Eldoret–Kitale–Lokichar–Amosing road project was launched in 2016 and will stretch almost 300km right to the border with South Sudan. The road will transport the oil from Turkana to Mombasa and is expected to be completed by 2018, though at the time of research the roads outside of Lodwar were still untouched.
The Gibe 3 Dam Controversy
Over the border in Ethiopia, the massive Gibe 3 hydroelectric dam opened in December 2016. The controversial dam aims to produce 15,000MW of electricity by 2021, which will make Ethiopia one of the largest producers and consumers of renewable energy on the continent. However, Kenyan environmentalists complain the project will affect the Omo River that runs into Lake Turkana, resulting in dropping water levels, livelihood losses and increased local conflicts.