Kenya Engineer’s had a chat with Mr. Jonathan Lodompui of Vision 2030 on infrastructure development in Kenya and engineers’ involvement in its achievement.

 

About Mr. Jonathan Lodompui

He holds a masters degree in Bias and International Relations Diplomacy. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and public administration and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Conflict Transformation. He is the Director of Vision 2030’s Enablers & Macro Department which deals with infrastructure development and reforms. Their main focus is roads, ports, airports, rail, water, science tech and innovation, ICT, land reforms among other reforms.

Infrastructure development is paramount to realising Vision 2030 and engineers are integral to this. What would you say is their role?

The Vision is clear on what needs to be done in terms of engineering. Engineers need to enhance their capacity in terms of linking what is happening at the institutions of learning and in the industry, especially the private sector. That way we’ll be able to harness the demand in the market. Engineering is all about skill development, skill transfer and there’s need also to benchmark in terms of industrial attachments. We have so many projects lying on the engineers’ path and it is their responsibility to guide the country in terms of technical expertise. The engineers have a big space for this country.

We have been hearing a lot on vision 2030, in the media and even budgetary allocations. Are we close to achieving this vision?

Vision 2030 is not a one day activity. It’s a gradual process and we continue harnessing gradual wins and celebrating little wins. The Vision was geared to be spread over 22 years from 2008. We still have 16 years to go. We are now through with Medium Term Plan I, 2008-2012, and are now in Medium Term Plan II, 2013-2017.Though some of the projects may be gradual, we aspire that, by end of Medium Plan II, and we shall have achieved certain parameters.

When you look at the budgetary projections, much of the focus was in information communication, telecommunications, and infrastructure projects. This is because these projects will provide advantage and create an enabling environment. Out of the total budget allocated for infrastructure and manufacturing, close to 94% goes to the projects earmarked for the Vision 2030 and this is impressive.

With the ever evolving world trends, innovation is very important in any development agenda. Do you think Kenya is capable of coming up with its own innovations?

At the inception stages, Kenya will harness whatever potentials are available. Regionally, Kenya has the potential to progress on its own but we’ll still have room for external experts. Our assumption, however, is that this will fade over time. Higher learning institutions in the country have also been given specific mandates to train personnel to plug in the gaps.

We are three years to the set deadline for the completion of Konza City. Is this project still on schedule?

Konza is a unique project and due diligence must be undertaken to realise the full potential. The land has been secured, 500 acres. The government has put a lot of focus on the horizontal development, i.e. water, roads, communication cables and so on. We have already received 345 different segmented investors including universities who are ready to put up the vertical buildings. This will be done before the end of this year.

In regard to timelines, after every medium term plan, we make a review. Sometimes some projects are not attained within given time lines, thus, we give new timelines for them. If it becomes tricky to deliver a certain project within a given timeline, we shall push it ahead and explain why it is so.

Tell us more on the mini steel mills highlighted in Vision 2030 as one of the key drivers of the manufacturing industry.

Our major focus is to fit in the Jua Kali artisanship into the light industry and build these light industries into mega manufacturing industries. Through KePSA (Kenya Private Sector Alliance) and KAM (Kenya Association of Manufacturers), discussions are ongoing to ensure that Kenyans are introduced into the private sector. One needs not to get a white collar job to feel employed; people can simply employ themselves and others.

With the 25% tax imposed on any imported steel, this will protect our manufacturing sector. We shall add value to our services and products.

Under Lapsset Corridor project, a refinery is to be set-up. Tullow seeks to have oil production by 2017. Will Kenya refine its oil by then?

The plan is very clear. We are joining hands with other countries in order to make the pipeline. Oil from South Sudan will flow through Lokichar, as well as oil from Oima, Uganda, all the way to Lamu. We shall have some refineries within the country in Lokichar, Isiolo and one in Lamu. But part of the crude oil will definitely be exported. For domestic market, we shall refine in Kenya and pump locally.

We shall also have emerging chemical industries around the refineries because of the by-products from the refineries. We shall refine some oil here as well as have a refinery in place by 2015.It a very simple thing that can take just 18 months to complete.

The private sector is anxiously waiting to have the project start. We would however want to have the project done within inter governmental agreement since we are joining up with other bi-lateral members.

The government is said to have taken one ambitious step by promising Kenyans 5000 MW of energy by 2018. How viable do you think this is?

This is very viable. Our projections are actually not the 5000 MW the government says but, by 2030, we shall be generating 23,000 MW. We have a clear plan on how this will be delivered and this is very sustainable. Our worry is actually not about the generation but the uptake and distribution.

Kenya Power and Ketraco are working around the clock to sensitise Kenyans on power generation even as Vision 2030 has set out to connect 300,000 new customers to the national grid. This means that in due time we shall be able to take-up all this energy.

The generation of additional 5000 MW is clearly spelt out. In fact by the year ending June 2014, out of the 5000 MW, we are generating 540 MW. By June next year we are adding 393 MW. After that, we shall go full-blast. The plants for geothermal will be ready for uptake and generation.

What is actually happening in Menengai and Olkaria is that we get sufficient megawatts and cap. By December this year, we are going to generate 90 MW from Menengai and about 280 MW from Olkaria. There are many other independent power producers in places like Turkana (wind), Isiolo (wind), Marsabit (wind), Ngong (wind).

We will soon get 1000 MW of coal energy in Kitui. We also have a programme to get 500 MW from liquefied natural gas (LNG) gas in Mombasa. The LNG programme going on in Mombasa will be coming up through imported gas but with our discovered LNG gas potentials, that will make the difference. Coal has been discovered and is ready for extraction. The tender has already been awarded. We shall use the Dongo Kundu plant as we set up other structures in Kitui.

If it comes to a situation where this energy mix will have some challenge, we’ll have our oil run the diesel engines. But our focus is to retire all the thermal plants in the country at some point and ensure we have renewable safe energy powering our economy.

There are complaints that most of the major projects are being awarded to foreign contractors. This has a negative impact on growing the local economy and capacity. What is your view on this?

There is balance between Kenyan, Chinese, Japanese, Turkey, Israelis and many other contractors. There is that mix. The local contractors are also learning from the foreign ones. Most of the times you’ll find they are joining hands.

The only thing is that they are not as good as other competitors. But it’s their responsibility as there is no choice, if we are to realise Vision 2030. They must be able to give quality work. The Kenyan contractors need to work hard and smart and provide the challenge as the space is already there.

Parting shot

Vision 2030 is the way to go and the government has taken deliberate steps to ensure it happens.

 

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