Kenyan energy firm starts fight over award of geothermal licences
Jacaranda Energy Limited is seeking revocation of all geothermal licences issued after August 2010It says senior officials in the ministry have been issuing geothermal licences without subjecting them to competition. The company claims its application for a licence has been pending in the ministry for years because it declined to pay a Sh30 million ($300,000) bribe.
A Kenyan energy firm has opened a big fight with top Ministry of Energy officials, accusing them of irregularly issuing geothermal power development licences to a select group of firms in return for favours. Jacaranda Energy Limited is seeking revocation of all geothermal licences issued after August 2010, arguing that they were issued corruptly and in contravention of the Constitution.Jacaranda, in a letter to Energy secretary Charles Keter, claims that senior officials in the ministry have been issuing geothermal licences without subjecting them to competition.The company claims that its application for a licence has been pending in the ministry for years because it declined to pay a Sh30 million ($300,000) bribe.“Our instructions are to move to court and seek nullification of all licences that were illegally awarded after the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 came into force and to compel strict adherence to your declaration that no licence would be issued without a guiding policy for allocation, development and exploitation of the geothermal resources and in strict compliance with the Constitution,” Jacaranda says in correspondence with Mr Keter.The letter was written through the law firm of Okoth and Kiplagat Advocates.Jacaranda says the ministry has continued to secretly allocate licences to those who are ready to pay bribes despite telling applicants who are unwilling to part with bribes to await the enactment of geothermal policy.
The firm claims that the process is so secretive that the Energy ministry has been willing to go the extra mile in covering up illegal issuance of geothermal licences.Jacaranda now says it will move to court unless Mr Keter cancels all the licences issued after promulgation of the 2010 Constitution within 14 days. The power company argues that part of what is being kept secret from the public is ongoing arbitration between the various aggrieved parties in which taxpayers risk losing in excess of $312. 7 million (Sh31.27 billion).Jacaranda says it has seen co-ordinates, covering five counties, of a proposed geothermal licence to a single private firm. The firm says issuing a licence covering Baringo, Laikipia, Nakuru, Samburu and Turkana without subjecting the same to public tendering or public participation illustrates the level of impunity in the ministry.Jacaranda reckons that Geothermal Development Company is not being allocated any further licences as part of a scheme to allocate the lucrative fields to private entities for personal gain.Kenya has made an effort in raising its green energy stock with the addition of geothermal and wind power in its energy mix.Last week, Kenya broke the ground for a 83MW Olkaria 1 Unit 6 Geothermal power plant in Naivasha, with 2021 as the completion date. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) said addition of the plant would push up its geothermal capacity, which currently stands at 533.8MW following completion of Olkaria 1, 4 and five plants that are also due for expansion.