Located on the East coast of Africa, Kenya is one of the most advanced countries in Africa when it comes to its climate change commitments. It is a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change and intends to reduce its emissions 32% by 2030, while also creating “a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life," according to its Vision 2030 plan.
The development of green energy will help achieve both of these goals. In December 2020, the country's president Uhuru Kenyatta met with Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi to discuss how the company could help Kenya reach its environmental commitments, provide local communities with efficient and sustainable access to energy resources, while also reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, which Kenya imports.
Eni has been present in Kenya since 2013, and just as importantly, has been a leader in converting traditional refineries in biorefineries which convert biomass to energy in Italy. What's more, Kenya's efforts fit well with Eni's own commitments to decarbonisation. The company has committed to the full decarbonisation of all its products and processes by 2050. Biorefineries play a large role in this commitment and Eni plans to increase its capacity fivefold by 2050.
After the December meeting, Eni got to work, developing a plan to leverage its expertise and technology. The project, now in its initial stages, would include:
- the development of Kenya's agriculture sector to supply the biorefinery
- the collection and refining of used cooking oil
- the conversion of a Mombasa refinery into a biorefinery producing renewable diesel and SAF (sustainable aviation fuel)
- the development of a bioethanol plant
- the advancement of international partnerships and financing.
“This project, which will take around five years to develop, has been an exemplar of a public-private partnership," said Eni Kenya's Managing Director Enrico Tavolini. “From the outset, the government has worked with us side by side to achieve our goals".
Tavolini explained how the government appointed teams to work with Eni counterparts on every aspect of the project, and Eni representatives in Kenya have regular meetings with ministers in the Department of Agriculture and Oil and Gas.
For Eni, the project is ground-breaking in other ways as well. The company's projects usually involve only one of the company's divisions. The Kenya project, however, involves: exploration, refining and marketing, and chemicals as well as sustainability and public affairs.
"This project is a win-win for Kenya and Eni in terms of business development and also the development of sustainable goals, job opportunities, GDP growth, the reduction of emissions, and more," said Angelo Mongioj, Business Development Manager in Green and Traditional Refining and Marketing.