Kenya: An Emerging Nuclear Energy Country

Peace Edem
March 24, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018


Fig. 1: Map of Kenya River Tana Location. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

As more industrialized nations like Germany and Sweden phase out nuclear energy use, we see a tide beginning to form in Africa. One African country in particular that is riding this nuclear energy wave is Kenya. Kenya currently faces a need to maximize its electrical power capacity. Kenya will require between 17,000 and 21,000 megawatts of electricity by 2030 to achieve its Vision 2030 goals, yet the country is only able to generate 2,400 megawatts from all it available energy sources. What is Kenya's solution to this problem? Nuclear energy.

Kenya's Nuclear Energy Plan

Kenya has launched a nuclear energy program in which the country intends to build a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant aimed at increasing power capacity that is currently at 2,400 MW with construction beginning in 2024 and possible location options including areas next to River Tana and the Indian Ocean (see Fig.1). [1,2] Although Kenya currently lacks the human capital and infrastructure necessary to deal with the great undertaking of nuclear energy, it is taking the necessary steps to be ready by 2030. It is currently preparing a workforce that will oversee the construction, operation and the commissioning of the power plant and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with five countries including Russia, South Korea, China, Slovakia and the United States to help in capacity building. [2] To deal with the safety concerns of nuclear waste management, Kenya's Radiation Protection Board has implemented a nuclear safeguard regime to account for every unit of nuclear material acquired and ensure that it is not diverted to unintended uses. [2]

Nuclear Energy: An Economic Incentive

The desire for Kenya to tap into nuclear energy is not only in hopes to fulfill its electrical power deficit but also to make the country more competitive in the regional market for power. Currently, Kenyan manufacturers are complaining of higher power tariffs compared to neighboring countries. The Kenya Association of Manufacturers says, local manufacturers are charged Sh 15 ($0.15 USD) per kilowatt hour, while manufacturers in Ethiopia, Egypt and Uganda pay as low as Sh 4.14 ($0.04 USD), Sh 6 ($0.06 USD) and Sh 12 ($0.12 USD) per kilowatt hour respectively. [2] As a result, these power charges make these locally produced goods more expensive and uncompetitive in regional markets.


Overall, Kenya boasts an optimistic outlook with its use of nuclear energy on the horizon. Tapping into this cheap and reliable source of energy, Kenya joins the likes of other African nations like Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Egypt, Uganda, and Tanzania that look to nuclear energy as a key part of their future.

© Peace Edem. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] C. Ilako, "Kenya to Set Up Nuclear Power Plant in 2024," The Star, 6 Dec 17.

[2] C. Omolu, "Kenya's Nuclear Quest: A Case of Extreme Optimism?," Daily Nation, 1 Feb 18.