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Kenyan authorities say Ebola case is a “false alarm”

The Health Ministry has spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya has already taken.

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Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki speaks to the media as travellers at the arrival terminal are screened by port health service, at the Jommo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi

Kenya sought to reassure the public and foreign visitors on Monday after a suspected Ebola case, which turned out to be negative, was detected near the border with Uganda.

Uganda last week reported three cases of Ebola, two of them fatal, among people who had been to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an epidemic has been underway since last August.

Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said a 36-year-old woman in the western county of Kericho had fallen ill with headache, fever and vomiting, which can also be symptoms of Ebola.

Further examination found she did not have the disease, Kariuki said at a press conference staged at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“The Rapid Surveillance and Response Team has examined the patient, who is in stable condition, and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition for Ebola,” she said.

“I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola.”

The Ugandan cases were confirmed in a town that is more than 600 kilometres from the border with Kenya.

Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken.

They included the installation of thermal cameras at entry points to detect people with high temperatures, as well as isolation units to host suspected cases. More than 250 health ministry workers have been deployed at entry points as part of this strategy.

The minister called on the public to be vigilant, urging anyone with Ebola-like symptoms who had travelled to affected countries to go to the nearest hospital.

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Kenya launches Africa’s biggest wind farm worth Ksh7 billion

The wind farm will deliver 310 megawatts of renewable power to Kenya’s national grid

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Kenya launches Africa's biggest wind farm worth Ksh7 billion
Kenya has inaugurated Africa's biggest wind power plant, a mammoth project in a gusty stretch of remote wilderness that now provides nearly a fifth of its energy needs. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Kenya on Friday inaugurated Africa’s biggest wind power plant, a mammoth project in a gusty stretch of remote wilderness that now provides nearly a fifth of the country’s energy needs.

The Ksh7 billion ($680 million) project, a sprawling 365-turbine wind farm on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, is delivering 310 megawatts of renewable power to the national grid of East Africa’s most dynamic economy.

The largest private investment in Kenya’s history, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project was beset with delays and took nearly a decade to rise from the arid landscape 600 kilometres (372 miles) north of Nairobi.

Today, the windmills — scattered across Turkana’s stark lunar landscape and rocky hills — deliver 15 per cent of Kenya’s entire installed capacity, connected to the national grid through a 428-kilometre power line.

“Today, we again raise the bar for the continent as we unveil the single largest wind farm,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta, after touring the project.

“Kenya is without a doubt on course to become a world leader in renewable energy.”

Turkana Corridor –

The project lies in a natural corridor dubbed “the windiest place on earth” and promises to harness this endless power at low cost.

The nearly-50 metre turbines were engineered to handle the fierce gusts that tear through the “Turkana Corridor”, a wind tunnel that generates optimal conditions, year-round.

The winds howling near constantly through the barren valley deliver double the load capacity enjoyed by similar projects in America and Europe.

“It is unprecedented. This is one of the most consistently windiest places in the world,” said Rizwan Fazal, the executive director of the Lake Turkana Power Project.

A Herculean effort was needed to construct the behemoth wind farm in Kenya’s farthest extremes.

The windmills, manufactured by Danish company Vestas, had to be brought one-by-one overland from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, some 1,200 kilometres away. 

Each one was customised so its different segments could be packed “like Russian dolls”, the company said

More than 2,000 trips were needed to bring all the materials from port to plant. 

Some 200 kilometres of road leading to the site had to be tarred to allow trucks through.

Another 100 kilometres of internal roads linking the turbines dotting the hot, desert horizons were also constructed.

‘Incredible journey’ –

The project, far more ambitious in scale than rivals elsewhere on the continent, has been closely watched as a case study of investing in renewables in Africa, where demand for energy is soaring as economies grow and populations swell.

In Kenya — which relies heavily on hydropower and geothermal — power is unreliable and costly, hindering business as energy-intensive sectors such as manufacturing look to take off.

Kenyatta has previously committed to 100 per cent renewable energy for Kenya by 2020 — a pledge the government has been accused of betraying with plans to build a coal-fired power plant off the coast in Lamu.

That project — deemed unnecessary by experts — has been stalled by legal challenges.

The Turkana wind farm involved years of planning and construction but the turbines went up quicker than one a day, with the last raised in March 2017, ahead of schedule.

But difficulties in financing the transmission line, being laid by state-owned power company Ketraco, and problems acquiring land, meant this landmark project didn’t connect to the grid for another 18 months — in September 2018.

“The farm was built on time. But the project can only operate if you can bring power to the client,” said Catherine Collin, East Africa head of the European Investment Bank. 

The EU’s lending facility loaned $200 million for the project, which received other finance from a consortium of European and African companies

“There was a delay, there was a few difficult moments, I have to say, for everybody, but in the end we all made it,” Collin said.

Fazal said it had been “an incredible journey” but more than anything it let the world know Kenya’s untapped clean energy markets were open for business.

“It sends a very strong signal about Kenya being ripe for projects,” he said.

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Kenya and Turkey to sign tax treaty

The level of bilateral trade is currently below the potential of the two countries.

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kenyan embassy in Ankara, Turkey

Ahmet Cemil Miroglu, Turkish ambassador to Kenya has announced that both countries are keen to improve the environment for investment and trade. 


“Officials of the two countries have exchanged a draft of the double taxation avoidance agreement and so the treaty should be signed by end of 2019”, Miroglu says. 


The level of bilateral trade is currently below the potential of the two countries. According to the Turkish envoy, bilateral trade hit 23.3 billion shillings in 2018 and was in favour of Turkey. 


Miroglu notes that Turkey exported machinery, textiles and furniture to Kenya while Kenya sold coffee, tea, horticulture and fruits to Turkey observing that both countries want to ensure that bilateral trade is based on win-win relations.

“We are looking for a way to enable more Kenyan goods to be sold in Turkey,” he adds. 

The envoy says that bilateral ties could be improved through interaction of the business community from the two countries. In September, a delegation from Turkey’s health sector will be on a trade mission to Kenya to see opportunities in the country’s health sector. 


“The delegation will showcase the latest health medical equipment from Turkey that could improve health outcomes for Kenyans,” Miroglu adds. 

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Ethiopia plans sale of minority stake in state-owned telecom firm

It is estimated Ethio-Telecom, the country’s only mobile and internet provider, has north of 40 million customers

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Ethiopia plans sale of minority stake in Ethio-Telecom | News Central TV
(File photo)

Ethiopia said Friday it would grant two telecom licenses to private firms and sell a minority stake in Ethio-Telecom, the sole operator, as the government opens sectors long closed to outsiders.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced last year plans to privatise a swathe of industries and allow foreign and private investors into key state-owned companies in an effort to attract new players to the economy.

State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina unveiled plans “to sell up to 49 per cent stake in Ethio-Telecom to private firms and give telecom licenses to two private telecom operators”.

“Ethiopia plans to make Ethio-Telecom a first-class service provider,” he told reporters in Addis Ababa.

“The government plans to open the sector to competition in addition to partial privatisation, to improve Ethiopia’s digital footprint”.

It is estimated Ethio-Telecom, the country’s only mobile and internet provider, has north of 40 million customers.

Eyob declined to detail which firms had expressed interest in the telecom offer, but stiff competition is expected from foreign multinationals keen on entry into one of Africa’s largest markets.

Ethiopia is Africa’s fastest-growing economy but faces soaring debt, poor-performing industries and a foreign exchange shortage.

The government owns most of Ethiopia’s major industries, and foreign businesses are kept out of banking, retail and other key sectors, unlike other rapidly-growing African economies.

In another reversal of long-standing policy, Ethiopia will also open parts of its agricultural sector to outsiders.

Eyob said several state-owned sugar projects would be sold, with foreign firms given the option of direct sale or entering joint ventures of public-private partnerships.

“Ethiopia has sought investment from foreign buyers located in Europe, Asia, and even African countries. The Ethiopia Ministry of Finance and Economic Co-operation expects the privatisation of, at least, five to six sugar factories within six to twelve months,” he said.

The country has, in recent years, invested billions in the sugar sector to meet fast-rising local demand and to bolster export revenue.

But the sector has been dogged by allegations of mismanagement and corruption and many state-run mills have suffered major losses.

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