8 June 2010 – The World Bank approved a $330 million loan to Kenya to expand access to electricity in the East African nation, the Washington-based lender said.

“Kenya has demonstrated a strong commitment to clean and green energy by exploiting its geothermal potential,” Johannes Zutt, the World Bank’s country director for Kenya, said in an e- mailed statement today. “The bank is supporting these efforts to promote equitable access by Kenyans to modern energy while protecting the environment.”

The loan has been approved under a project of more than $1.4 billion being invested in the electricity industry by the Kenyan government, the World Bank and other development partners to strengthen the nation’s foundations for economic growth and competitiveness, Zutt said.

Kenya had scheduled power cuts between Aug. 6 and Oct. 22 last year after low water levels in its hydro-generation dams cut capacity to about 30 percent. It plans to build power plants to generate 1,500 megawatts by 2019 after drought reduced supplies from hydropower plants, which generate about 60 percent of its electricity, according Kenya Power & Lighting Ltd., the nation’s monopoly power distributor.

The World Bank has invested $160 million in Kenya’s energy industry since 2004 to increase geothermal generation, improve electricity distribution and implement electrification programs to support economic growth and reduce regional disparities, the statement said.

“Lack of reliable energy lowers the annual sale revenues of Kenyan firms by about seven percent and reduces Kenya’s growth rate by about 1.5 percent,” according to the statement, which cited the 2008 Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic Report.