By Prince Papa

One of the past action by 350 Kenya and partners outside the ministry of environment

On January 17th, 350 Kenya team joined University of Nairobi students in a debate over the proposed Lamu coal plant. The debate, which was live-streamed via Facebook dissected the flows presented on the ESIA and the selling stories that Amu power is floating around the country about the so-called benefits of coal for the ‘development of Africa’.

“That coal is creating employment is a lie. That coal is creating development is another fallacy,” quipped Gerance Mutwol, one of the strong opposers of the project at the same time Chairperson of Chiromo Environmental Awareness Club (CEAC) at the University of Nairobi.  “Coal will destroy the lives of those working in the industry and living in surrounding areas, coal will exacerbate sufferings both for the communities, the ecosystem and aquatic life,” he added.

In his closing remark, Isaack Oindo, an activist and volunteer at  350 Kenya gave a local example of how a local neighbouring university, Strathmore is now able to run on 100% solar and still sells its bonus electricity to the Kenya government.

From this debate whose main goal is to assess the level of awareness in higher learning institutions in Kenya regarding coal and its impacts to the environment, it emerged that there is still a huge gap of access to the right information. The debaters involved in generalised and untrue aspects of coal without any verifiable facts to support their arguments. Sensing this inconsistency, 350 Kenya has planned to conduct such debates within various local universities to continue raising awareness on dangers of coal while building support to the growing anti-coal network in Kenya.

Less than five years ago, the Government of Kenya in collaboration with Centum Investment got enticed by the vicious Chinese agenda of “development for Africa” based on the use of coal energy. Centum Investment Company, is an affiliate of Kenya government and a leading East African investment company listed both in the Nairobi and Uganda securities exchange. In 2014, Centum Investment Company was avariciously awarded a tender to construct the 1050 MW coal power plant in Kenya’s UNESCO heritage site of Lamu.

Since then, conversations and debates about coal have been part of the daily spheres of life within Kenya, albeit mostly in Lamu (where it all begun) and slowly spreading to other parts of the country like Kitui, designed to be the source of raw coal for the proposed Lamu plant. At the same time, various coal exploration expeditions are currently underway throughout Kenya.