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Accessing Clean and Affordable Energy for All: The Kenyan Experience

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By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), The African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021*

Most developing countries are struggling with growing population and it is expected that today’s world population will increase 1.26 times to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 with most of the world’s population which include 90% of the population growth belonging to the developing countries.19 Kenya, just like many other developing countries in Africa, is dealing with the burden of a growing population, environmental pollution, poverty, corruption and legal and policy framework inadequacies, among others, which all affect the achievement of clean and sustainable energy for all. In addition, cultural perceptions (including myths about the flavour of food cooked on traditional stoves and the relative safety and cost of clean alternatives) have also been identified as a significant barrier to wider uptake of clean cooking fuels. These challenges informed the drafting of the sustainable development goals and the related targets.

As a result, the environment which is being increasingly polluted because of rapid industrialization and human work is critical in the sustainable development agenda where sustainable development mainly covers the use of renewable energy, energy security, energy pricing, energy policy, renewable energy applications and smart grid technologies. The World Health Organization in a 2018 Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool (HEART) developed in Kenya highlights human health issues from non-renewable energy sources where it points out that ‘household air pollution (HAP) from inefficient fuel combustion is one of the most important global environmental health risks today’ especially in low- and middle income countries such as Kenya, where majority of the population still rely on solid fuels (wood, animal dung, charcoal, crop wastes and coal) burnt in inefficient, highly polluting stoves for cooking and heating.

Indeed, this trend is expected to go on for longer if the latest reports are anything to go by. It is reported that Kenyans are expected to pay higher for liquefied petroleum gas from 1st July 2021 following the reinstatement of value-added tax (VAT) on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) through the Finance Act 2020, but the implementation of the charges was deferred to the second half of 2021 due to the Covid-19 crisis. This is a retrogressive move by the Government from the earlier development where ‘Kenyan households had since June 2016 been enjoying low cooking gas prices after the Treasury scrapped the tax on LPG to cut costs and boost uptake among the poor who rely on dirty kerosene and charcoal for cooking’, a move that was in line with the country’s commitment to achievement of SDG Goal 7. With affordability being a key access barrier to clean cooking fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), this move is likely to erode the gains made in transitioning the country to cleaner technologies. It has been suggested that while many developing countries have been apparently trying to restructure their energy sectors it is difficult to realize innovations in the energy sector as they struggle with cost, market share and policy as the main barriers for the development of renewable energy. This is especially important since the reserves of fossil fuels are naturally expected to come to an end.

Kenya’s major sources of energy for the main economic production are oil, geothermal and hydro resources for electricity production where oil-based electricity generation is environmentally harmful, expensive and a burden to the national trade balance; the rivers for hydropower and their tributaries are found in arid and semi-arid areas with erratic rainfall leading to problems of supply security, and geothermal exploitation has cost and risk issues, amongst others. The cost of electricity generation and supply is also affected by the overdependence on Hydroelectric Power (HEP) as the main source of renewable energy, which is weather dependent and the unpredictable weather, due to climate change has made power rationing a common phenomenon in a number of Sub-Saharan Africa countries during the dry seasons.

It has been observed that while ‘Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) provide attractive environmentally sound technology options for Africa’s electricity industry, the success of RETs in the region has been limited by a combination of factors which include: poor institutional framework and infrastructure; inadequate RET planning policies; lack of co-ordination and linkage in the RET programme; pricing distortions which have placed renewable energy at a disadvantage; high initial capital costs; weak dissemination strategies; lack of skilled manpower; poor baseline information; and, weak maintenance service and infrastructure’. The challenges of energy cost and reliability in Kenya are made worse by the energy transmission and distribution virtual monopoly currently existing in Kenya.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), generates about 70% of Kenya’s electricity. On the same breadth, Kenya Power owns and operates most of the electricity transmission and distribution system in the country and sells electricity to over 8 million as at end of June 2020. The Government of Kenya has a controlling stake at 50.1% of shareholding with private investors at 49.9%. Lack of competition in the electricity generation and supply sector has been blamed for inefficiency and high costs of energy. The Energy Act, 2019 was enacted to consolidate the laws relating to energy, to provide for National and County Government functions in relation to energy, to provide for the establishment, powers and functions of the energy sector entities; promotion of renewable energy; exploration, recovery and commercial utilization of geothermal energy; regulation of midstream and downstream petroleum and coal activities; regulation, production, supply and use of electricity and other energy forms; and for connected purposes.

While the citizenry was hoping that the enactment of this law would liberalize the energy market in Kenya and eliminate Kenya Power’s monopoly in transmission and distribution of electricity in the country through licensing of other companies, the Government seemed to only affirm the same. KenGen is among the companies that have been seeking to enter the retail market and sell electricity directly to consumers. However, to the disappointment of many Kenyans, the Government declined to license other companies, as yet. In summary, therefore, Kenya’s energy sector still suffers from consistent power outages especially during dry seasons, high electricity tariffs specially exacerbated by high poverty and employment rates, energy retail sector monopoly, and cultural issues and biases that affect uptake of cleaner energy technologies, among others.

Notably, as far as the use of clean energy is concerned, it is estimated that two-thirds of Kenya’s energy currently comes from bioenergy.43 In addition, as Kenya seeks to move from non-renewable energy sources to renewable energy sources as envisaged under the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, moving an economy which relies heavily on wood fuel and biomass as its largest energy source, to achieve sustainable energy use through the gradual increase in the use of renewable energy sources that are often expensive due to the technology deployed, in the face of oil and coal discoveries that could be more readily accessible in spite of its known effects on the environment is a great challenge. This is mainly due to higher poverty levels in many households in developing countries, such as Kenya thus making it nearly impossible to afford the renewable and cleaner energy sources.

This is what is also mainly referred to as energy poverty, which the World Economic Forum in 2010 defined as ‘the lack of access to sustainable modern energy services and products’. Related to this definition is the observation that ‘it is not only a matter of sustainability: energy poverty can be found in all conditions where there is a lack of adequate, affordable, reliable, quality, safe and environmentally sound energy services to support development. The connection between energy poverty and socio-economic development is that ‘insufficient energy usually translates into the impossibility to develop agriculture and manufacturing, thus keeping the poorest countries trapped in a vicious circle: they cannot afford the energy that can drive them out of poverty’. Therefore, as the situation currently stands, majority of Kenyan population are suffering from energy poverty that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

*This article is an extract from published article Delivering Clean and Affordable Energy for All, by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), CIArb (Kenya) ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Foremost Dispute Resolution Expert in Africa ranked among Top 6 Arbitrators in Kenya by Chambers and Partners, Leading 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 2022. 

References

Muigua, K., “Delivering Clean and Affordable Energy for All,” Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Delivering-Clean-and-Affordable-Energy-for-All-Kariuki-Muigua-Ph.D-24th-April-2021-1.pdf (accessed 25 June 2022).

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Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal

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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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Court of Appeal Upholds Eviction of Radcliffes from Karen Land

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Adrian Radcliffe, the Expatriate Squatter, Evicted from Karen Property by Innocent Purchaser for Value

The Court of Appeal has stayed the decision of the Environment and Land Court purporting to reinstate Adrian Radcliffe into possession of the 5.7 Acre Karen Land by Kena Properties Ltd after eviction by the lawful owners in February 2022. Adrian Radcliffe who was evicted by Kena Properties Ltd, the innocent purchaser of the Land for value.

Before his eviction, Mr. Radcliffe had been living on the land as a squatter expatriate for 33 years without paying any rent. Since he moved into the property as a tenant, he only paid deposit for the land in August 1989 despite corresponding severally with the owner of the land. His attempt to acquire the land by adverse possession claim filed in 2005 was dismissed by Court in 2011 on the basis that he has engaged with the owner of the land July 1997 and agreed to buy the land which he failed to do. The High Court [Justice Kalpana Rawal as she then was] concluded that:

“His [Mr. Adrian Radcliffe] averments that he did not have any idea of the whereabouts of the Defendant and that he could possibly be not alive, were not only very sad but mala fide in view of the correspondence on record addressed by him to the Defendant’s wife. I would thus find that the averments made by him to the contrary are untrue looking to the facts of this case.”

On 10th March 2022, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe and Family purported to obtain court orders for reinstatement into the land. However, the Court of Appeal issued an interim stay of execution of the said orders. The Court of Appeal has now granted the application of Kena Properties Ltd and stayed the execution of the Environment and Land Court Order pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal.

The Court also stayed the proceedings at the Environment and Land Court on the matter during the pendency of the Appeal. In effect, the eviction orders issued by the Chief Magistrate Court for eviction of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe in favour of Kena Properties as the purchaser of the property for value were upheld and the company now enjoys unfettered ownership and possession of the suit property until the conclusion of the Appeal.

The Court of Appeal in granting the orders sought by Kena Properties Ltd concurred with Kena Properties Ltd that as the property owner it had an arguable appeal with a high probability of success which would be rendered nugatory if Adrian Radcliffe a trespasser was to resume his unlawful possession of the suit property, erect structures thereon, recklessly use or abuse the said suit property as he deems fit. In any case, that is bound to fundamentally alter the state of the suit property and render it unusable by Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner.

At the same time, the Appellate Court rubbished the argument of Adrian Radcliffe in opposition to the application for stay that he has been in occupation of the suit property for more than 30 years and that he and his family were unlawfully evicted from the suit property on 4th February, 2022. The Court also rejected Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties Ltd has no valid title to the suit property and held that as the purchaser, the company was entitled to enjoy ownership and possession of their property during the pendency of the appeal.

The Court dismissed claims of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe that Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner acquired title to the suit property illegally and unprocedurally finding to the contrary. Further, it rejected Adrian Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties as the purchaser cannot evict a legal occupier of a property putting paid to the claim that he was a legal occupier at the time of eviction.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe cannot claim to be the legal occupier of the property having attempted to acquire it by adverse possession before the High Court thwarted his fraudulent scheme on 28th February 2011. Mr. Radcliffe did not appeal the 2011 High Court decision meaning it is still the law that he is not the owner of the land nor the legal occupier of the land having attempted to adversely acquire against the interests of the lawful owner who sold it to Kena Properties.

Mr. Adrian Radcliffe is a well-to-do Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) UNICEF consultant and former UN employee (who has been earning hefty House Allowance). Many have wondered why he has been defaulting in paying rent for 33 years on the prime plot of land in Karen while living large and taking his kids to most expensive schools in Kenya. No question, a local Kenyan could never have gotten away with such selfish impunity.

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Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1

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The Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 9, Issue No. 1, which is edited by and published by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD is out and stays true to the reputation of the journal in providing a platform for scholarly debate on thematic areas in the fields of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development. The current issue published in September 2022 covers diverse topics including Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in Africa; National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya; Protection of Cultural Heritage During War; The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya; Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya; Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation; Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World; Status of Participation of Women in Mediation; Business of Climate Change and Critical Analysis of World Trade Organization’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment.

Dr. Wilfred A. Mutubwa and Eunice Njeri Ng’ang’a in “Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in an Integrating Africa: An Appraisal of the Role of Regional Arbitration Centres” explore the nature of disputes in the realm of oil and gas in Africa taking a look into the recent continental and sub-regional developments in a bid to establish regional integration. Additionally, it tests the limits of intra-African trade and dispute resolution and the imperatives for the African regional courts and arbitration centres. In “National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua discusses the role played by the National Environment Tribunal (NET) in promoting access to justice and enhancing the principles of sustainable development in Kenya. The paper also highlights challenges facing the tribunal and proposes recommendations towards enhancing the effectiveness of the tribunal.

Dr. Kenneth Wyne Mutuma in “Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of War: A Case for History,” argues that cultural heritage is at the heart of human existence and its preservation even in times of war is sacrosanct. It concludes that it is thus critical for states to take positive and tangible steps to ensure environmental conservation and protection during war within the ambit of the existing international legal framework. In “The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya,” Jack Shivugu critically evaluates the role of water in the attainment of sustainable development in Kenya and argues water plays a critical role in the attainment of the sustainable development goals both in Kenya and at the global stage. The paper interrogates some of the water and Sustainable Development concerns in Kenya including water pollution, water scarcity and climate change and suggests practical ways to enhance the role of water in the Sustainable Development agenda.

Dr. Paul Ogendi in “Collective Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya,” reflects on property rights in relation to human biological materials obtained from research participants participating in genomic research. He argues that property rights are crucial in genomic research because they can help avoid exploitation or abuse of such precious material by researchers. In “Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua notes that Wetlands have a vital role in not just delivering ecological services to meet human needs, but also in biodiversity conservation. Wetlands are vital habitat sites for many species and a source of water, both of which contribute to biodiversity protection. The paper examines the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation and how these wetland resources might be managed to improve biodiversity conservation.

Oseko Louis D. Obure in “Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World,” preponderance of disputes between States or States and Investors created need for a robust, effective, and efficient mechanisms not only for the resolution of these disputes but also their prevention. He notes that developing states lead in being parties to Investor-State Disputes (ISD) particularly as respondents. He proceeds to conceptualize and problematize investor-state disputes resolution in a fast-paced world. Lilian N.S. Kong’ani and Dr. Kariuki Muigua in “Status of Participation of Women in Mediation: A case Study of Development Project Conflict in Olkaria IV, Kenya” review the status of participation of women in mediation to resolve conflicts between KenGen and the community. The paper demonstrates a need for further democratization of the mediation processes to cater for more participation of women to enhance the mediation results and offer more sustainable resolutions.

Felix Otieno Odhiambo and Melinda Lorenda Mueni in “The Business of Climate Change: An Analysis of Carbon Trading in Kenya analyses the business of carbon trading in the context of Kenya’s legal framework. The article examines the legal framework that underpins climate change into the Kenyan legal system and provides an exposition of the concept of carbon trading and its various forms. Michael Okello, in “Critical Analysis of World Trade Organisation’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment: Prospects, Challenges and Emerging Trends in the 21st Century,” highlights the rationale behind MFN treatment and also restates the vision of multilateral trade to achieve equitable and special interventions with respect to trade in goods, services and trade related intellectual property rights in the affected states.

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