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The Legal and Institutional Framework for Nuclear Energy in Kenya: Are we Getting it Right?



By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert in Kenya)*

Many countries are reconsidering the role of nuclear energy in their energy mix, as a means to alleviate the concerns over climate change, security of energy supply and the price and price volatility of fossil fuels. The need for alternative sources of energy has been fueled by the combination of climate change fears and a continued growth in energy demand as a way of moving away from the global fossil fuel addiction. It is estimated that nuclear fission as one such alternative accounts for 14% of global electricity generation and has the potential to generate significantly more. The proponents of use of nuclear energy argue that it has the potential to reduce pollution, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and help countries attain more energy independence.

The Global Legal and Institutional Framework for Nuclear Energy

The global legal framework on production and use of nuclear energy governs key issues relating to the use and safety of nuclear energy. All countries venturing into this territory are expected to abide by the same. Specifically, the existing international nuclear liability regime is based on the Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy of 29 July 1960, as amended by the Additional Protocol of 28 January 1964 and by the Protocol of 16 November 1982 (1960 Paris Convention) and the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (1963 Vienna Convention), which set forth the basic principles of nuclear liability law. These principles include: the operator of a nuclear installation is exclusively liable for nuclear damage; strict (no fault) liability is imposed on the operator; exclusive jurisdiction is granted to the courts of one State, to the exclusion of the courts in other States; and liability may be limited in amount and in time.

In terms of institutional framework, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the main institution that oversees the implementation of these legal instruments among other functions. The mandate of the IAEA as an international organization is to seek to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.  Currently, over thirty countries produce and use nuclear energy, with some, like France, producing large portions of their electricity from nuclear power, and others like Brazil and the Netherlands producing small percentages of electricity by nuclear power.

The Kenyan Legal and Institutional Framework for Nuclear Energy

Kenya is still at a nascent stage in its plans to set up nuclear reactors, especially as far as regulatory frameworks are concerned. The preferred site for the nuclear plant in the country is Tana River County, near the Kenyan coast which was preferred after studies across three regions. The plant will be developed with a concessionaire under a build, operate and transfer model.

Nuclear Regulatory Act 2019

The Nuclear Regulatory Bill 2018 was first published by Parliament on November 19, 2018. The Bill has since been enacted as law under Nuclear Regulatory Act, 2019 and the law to provide for a comprehensive framework for the regulation of safe, secure and peaceful utilization of atomic energy and nuclear technology; the production and use of radiation sources and the management of radioactive waste; the repeal of the Radiation Protection Act and for connected purposes. While the Act is quite comprehensive, there will be need for constant review as the stakeholders identify what works and what challenges arise in the course of its implementation.

Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA)

The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency, formerly Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB), is a State Corporation established under the Energy Act 2019. The Agency is charged with, inter alia: being the nuclear energy programme implementing organization and promoting the development of nuclear electricity generation in Kenya; and carrying out research, development and dissemination activities in the energy and nuclear power sector. The Agency is therefore expected to work closely with the other stakeholders in the energy sector to oversee the setting up and successful running of nuclear energy production projects in the country.

Nuclear Energy in Kenya: Are we Getting it Right?

Some commentators have keenly highlighted some of the issues that have made the general public uncomfortable with the idea of Kenya turning to nuclear energy including: lack of properly trained manpower, the overall cost of the project, suitability of the sites where nuclear plants are to be built and nuclear disaster management. However, even as the Government proceeds with the project, there has been many emerging issues and questions surrounding the viability of the nuclear energy project especially given that Kenya still has vast renewable energy resources that remain under exploited to this day.

Indeed, the progress towards making Kenya a Nuclear Energy producer has received a mixed bag of fortunes in this year, in a span of less than 3 months between June and October 2021. In June 2021, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) carried out a follow-up Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission to assess the country’s progress on recommendations from an INIR mission conducted in 2015. IAEA reviewed the status of nuclear infrastructure development using the Phase 1 criteria from of the IAEA’s Milestones Approach, which provides detailed guidance across three phases of development (consider, prepare, construct). Phase 1 evaluates the readiness of a country to make a knowledgeable commitment to a nuclear power programme.

The follow-up INIR team of the IAEA said noted that Kenya had made progress in the implementation of most recommendations and suggestions from the 2015 review. In particular, the follow-up INIR team noted that Kenya developed the National Nuclear Policy and the National Policy and Strategy for Safety to enable the Government to make an informed decision on whether to introduce nuclear power. Further, it acknowledged the country enacted a national nuclear law and established a regulatory body with clear responsibilities for safety, security and safeguards. Kenya had also completed an assessment of the national legal framework and identified other laws needing review and there was enhanced the coordination among its key stakeholders in the development of its nuclear power program. However, the IAEA team said that further work is needed in areas such as the development of a nuclear leadership programme and the ratification of international conventions in the area of nuclear safety.

Interestingly, before the good news sank in, the Presidential taskforce on reviewing power purchase agreements recommended the dissolution of the Nuclear Energy and Energy Agency (NuPEA), stating that it is of no use at the moment. The presidential taskforce said in the report that the country is years away from installing its first nuclear power plant and does not yet need an autonomous parastatal to lead the process. This comes even as last year the Agency had announced the plans to build a $5 billion (Sh540 billion) nuclear power plant on a site in Tana River County over the next seven years with funding from private investors. In August 2020, the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) in a regulatory filing with the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), revealed that the plant with an initial capacity of 1,000 megawatt (Mw) plant was to be constructed through a concession on build, operate and transfer (BOT) model.

But this did not stop the Presidential Taskforce from sounding the death knell on NuPEA putting limbo the future of nuclear energy program in limbo. The taskforce stated in a report released to the Media in October 2021: “According to the 2020-40 LCPDP, the country is unlikely to enter nuclear power generation in the near future. A separate entity to promote and implement a nuclear program in Kenya, therefore, is not needed at this time, and this high-level non-generation role could be played by the Ministry of Energy. The intended role, which is not nuclear-related, can be efficiently played by the respective entities. he implication of the costs of running NuPEA as a separate entity cannot be justified.”

Whole Kenya began considering nuclear electricity in 2008, a first plant had been proposed to be built by 2020 but this target was moved to 2027 and then later to 2037. It is interesting that the task force recommended the amendment of Section 54 of the Energy Act, which established NuPEA barely two be transferred to a department within the Ministry of Energy to manage the development of general nuclear energy policy. The question that begs is: Do we even need nuclear energy at all? As things stand, countries as France and Germany that have far much advanced technology and regulatory frameworks in place for nuclear energy are cutting down on their use of nuclear energy for its potential negative effects if not well handled. In fact, Germany has put in place long term plans to phase out their plants.

Given the nuclear energy trends among major players as highlighted above even before Kenya launches its own nuclear power project, shouldn’t the Government be considering focusing on other more affordable and safer sources of renewable energy? In any case, Kenya is already hailed as one of the notable producers of renewable energy such as wind power and geothermal power. There is a need to explore these at a higher scale because while they are not cheap to produce, nuclear energy may even prove more expensive and complicated to run due to the potential risks.

*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Muigua, K., “Exploring Alternative Sources of Energy in Kenya,” Available at:, Dr. Kariuki Muigua is Kenya’s foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2021 and nominated as ADR Practitioner of the Year (Nairobi Legal Awards) 2021. 


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  2. Bodansky, D., ‘Nuclear Energy: Principles, Practices, and Prospects,’ (CERN Document Server, 2008) (accessed 19 August 2020).
  3. Bukszpan, D., ‘11 Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters’ (CNBC, 16 March 2011) 2011/03/16/11-Nuclear-Meltdowns-and-Disasters.html (accessed 6 October 2020).
  4. Gioia, A., “The 1997 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the 1997 Convention on Supplementary Compensation. Explanatory Texts.” (2007): 5-99 < https://www. Publications/PDF/P1768_web.pdf> accessed 8 September 2020.
  5. International Atomic Energy Agency, ‘Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Uses,’ learn/treaties-and-regimes/international-atomic-energy-agency/ (accessed 6 October 2020).
  6. International Atomic Energy Agency, “IAEA Reviews Progress of Kenya’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development,” Available at: (accessed 14 November 2021).
  7. Kawi, ‘Background’ (Ministry of Energy), Available at: (accessed 28 September 2020).
  8. Nuclear Regulatory Act, No. 29 of 2019, Laws of Kenya.
  9. Owiro, D., G. Poquillon, K. S. Njonjo, and C. Oduor. “Situational analysis of energy industry, policy and strategy for Kenya.” Institute of Economic Affairs (2015) < documents/Situational-Analysis-ofEnergy-Industry-Policy-and–Strategy-for-Kenya_1.pdf> (accessed 28 September 2020).
  10. Republic of Kenya, National Energy Policy, October, < _National %20Energy%20Policy%20October%20%202018.pdf > accessed 30 September 2020.
  11. Strupczewski, A. “Accident risks in nuclear-power plants.” Applied Energy 75 (2003): 79-86.
  12. The Star, ‘A Case for Nuclear Energy in Kenya,’ 2019-04-05-a-case-for-nuclear-energy-in-kenya/(accessed 19 August 2020).
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News & Analysis

The Roles of the Three Parts of the Permanent Court of Arbitration




H.E. Amb. Marcin Czepelak, the Fourteenth Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

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Brief History of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)




By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, C.Arb, Current Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Representing the Republic of Kenya.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a 124 Years Old Intergovernmental Organization currently with 122 contracting states. It was established at the turn of 20th Century during the first Hague Peace Conference held between 18th May and 29th July 1899. The conference was an initiative of then Russian Czar Nicholas II to discuss peace and disarmament and specifically with the object of “seeking the most effective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and, above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments.” The culmination of the conference was the adoption of a Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, which dealt not only with arbitration but also with other methods of pacific settlement, such as good offices and mediation.

The aim of the conference was to “strengthen systems of international dispute resolution” especially international arbitration which in the last century had proven effective for the purpose with number of successful international arbitrations being concluded among Nations. The Alabama arbitration of 1871-1872 between the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) under the Treaty of Washington of 1871 culminating in the arbitral tribunal’s award that the UK pay the US compensation for breach of neutrality during American Civil War which it did had demonstrated the effectiveness of arbitration in settling of international disputes and piqued interest of many practitioners in it as a mode of dispute resolution during the latter years of the nineteenth century.

The Institut de Droit International adopted a code of procedure for arbitration in 1875 to answer the need for a general law of arbitration governing for countries and parties wishing to have recourse to international arbitration. The growth of arbitration as a mode of international dispute resolution formed the background of the 1899 conference and informed its most enduring achievement, namely, the establishment of the PCA as the first global mechanism for the settlement of disputes between states. Article 16 of the 1899 Convention recognized that “in questions of a legal nature, and especially in the interpretation or application of International Conventions” arbitration is the “most effective, and at the same time the most equitable, means of settling disputes which diplomacy has failed to settle.”

In turn, the 1899 Convention provided for the creation of permanent machinery to enable the setting up of arbitral tribunals as necessary and to facilitate their work under the auspices of the institution it named as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). In particular, Article 20 of the 1899 Convention stated that “[w]ith the object of facilitating an immediate recourse to arbitration for international differences which it has not been possible to settle by diplomacy, the signatory Powers undertake to organize a Permanent Court of Arbitration, accessible at all times and operating, unless otherwise stipulated by the parties, in accordance with the rules of procedure inserted in the present Convention.” In effect, the Convention set up a permanent system of international arbitration and institutionalized the law and practice of arbitration in a definite and acceptable way.

As a result, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was established in 1900 and began operating in 1902. The PCA as established consisted of a panel of jurists designated by each country acceding to the Convention with each country being entitled to designate up to four from among whom the members of each arbitral tribunal might be chosen. In addition, the Convention created a permanent Bureau, located in The Hague, with functions similar to those of a court registry or secretariat. The 1899 Convention also laid down a set of rules of procedure to govern the conduct of arbitrations under the PCA framework.

The second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 saw a revision of the 1899 Convention and improvement of the rules governing arbitral proceedings. Today, the PCA has developed into a modern, multi-faceted arbitral institution perfectly situated to meet the evolving dispute resolution needs of the international community. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has also diversified its service offering alongside those contemplated by the Conventions. For instance, today the International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration serves as a registry in important international arbitrations. In 1993, the Permanent Court of Arbitration adopted new “Optional Rules for Arbitrating Disputes between Two Parties of Which Only One Is a State” and, in 2001, “Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment”.


PCA Website: (accessed on 25th May 2023).

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News & Analysis

Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal




Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania who has sued the Bank for Unlawful Dismissal

Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.

Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.

In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.

He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.

“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.

Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.

He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.

“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.

He wants  further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.

Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.

He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.

He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.

He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands.  He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.

Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.

“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.

He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.

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