Japan promises Kenya aid to fund development, power generation

August 29, 2016 1:55 AM EDT

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attend a news conference following bilateral talks at State House in Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya


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NAIROBI (Reuters) - Japan will give Kenya 1 billion yen ($9.78 million) in aid to spur economic and social development, and will extend an as yet unspecified amount for a geothermal power project, the leaders of the two countries said.

Resource-poor Japan has long been keen on tapping Africa's vast natural resources, even more so since dependence on oil and natural gas imports jumped after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster shut almost all its nuclear reactors.

"Japan will extend grant aid for economic and social development amounting to one billion yen," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a joint statement late on Sunday.

On Saturday, Abe had told African leaders at a development conference that Japan would commit $30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion in the continent over a three-year period starting in 2016.

Japan will also provide a concessional loan to the Olkaria geothermal project, operated by state-run Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), the two leaders added.

KenGen has a total production capacity of 1,618 megawatts, of which 514 MW is from geothermal.

Japan has provided loans and technical assistance to KenGen power projects in the past, among them a 46-billion-yen ($408-million) loan deal signed in March to build a 140 MW geothermal plant expected to be operational within two years.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



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