x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE loan helps provide electric power to rural Kenyans

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has loaned the Government of Kenya Dh36.7 million to fund electricity projects which will help supply electricity to 35,460 homes, and 591 health, education, government and commercial entities.

ABU DHABI // Thousands of families in the rural villages of Kenya will soon have a steady supply of electricity with the help of the UAE.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development yesterday lent the government of Kenya Dh36.7 million, 22.1 per cent of the cash needed for its ambitious electricity project.

Power will be supplied to 35,460 homes in 66 different areas in 24 states across the country. Another 591 centres, including units selling tea and milk, health centres, government bodies and schools, will also benefit.

China, Belgium and the African Fund for Development have all contributed to the multimillion dollar project, which aims to improve the living standards of rural Kenyans, lower poverty and reduce migration to the city.

The project will also boost the country’s economy by nurturing small enterprises in the field of production, particularly in tea and milk, and manufacturing household items.

With the electricity supply, forest wood will no longer be the main source of power in the country.

Mutua Kilaka, financial secretary to the national treasury in Kenya, expressed his gratitude.

“Supplying Kenya’s rural areas with sufficient electricity will help to improve the standard of living of the population, and will also reduce the congestion in major cities in the country as a result of people migrating to it,” he said.

Fifty-two per cent of rural residents have no electricity.

The “project will enable families to develop the small industries working in the field of production and manufacturing, which reflected positively on the income of the population and the development of local economies”, he added.

Mr Kilaka said that since the fund began offering assistance in 1985, all grants and loans were directed towards developmental projects, stimulating economic growth.

The fund has so far loaned Kenya Dh58m for its transport sector, helping to increase accessibility of health, social and educational services to remote areas and promoting trade among Kenya’s cities.

Two grants worth Dh12m were given to the government as well. The money was used to finance the Sheikh Zayed Centre for Child Care projects.

The fund said the loans and grants reflected a keenness by the UAE to support developing countries facing developmental struggles.

The electricity sector is one of the primary sectors receiving assistance. So far, Dh4.6 billion has been spent to fund electricity projects across the globe.

“The positive impact of this project will benefit all the sectors of Kenya’s economy,” said Mohammed Al Suwaidi, acting director general of the fund. “In addition to allowing the Kenyan government to provide electricity to many deprived areas and consequently improving the living conditions of their people, the availability of adequate electricity supplies will also directly contribute to the stimulation of economic development, and local and foreign investments.

“As we know, shortage of power is one of the major handicaps to the economic and social development of developing countries in general.”

Mr Kilaka said as Kenya aims to become a middle-income industrial country by 2030, it has encouraged further investment by the UAE.

“To achieve this objective we require enormous financial resources to invest in infrastructure and other key sectors of our economy, in particular roads, railway lines, ports and education,” he said.

Mr Al Suwaidi said a delegation from the fund would make regular visits to Kenya to follow up on the projects.

osalem@thenational.ae