President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday signed three Bills which were presented to him at the State House, Nairobi. The bills include the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill 2017, The Petroleum Bill 2017 and the Energy Bill 2017. The president signed the bills in the presence of the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka, among others.
The 2017 Petroleum Bill will among other things provide a framework for contracting, exploring, developing and producing petroleum in the East African country. Kenya’s proven recoverable reserves are estimated at 750 million barrels. Last year, the country signed a deal with Total SA for a $3.35 billion Lokichar-Lamu pipeline project, as the only evacuation route for Kenya’s crude oil. While it waits for the pipeline, Kenya began transporting crude to the port city of Mombasa in an experimental programme dubbed Early Oil Pilot Scheme. The programme was initially disrupted by the local community following unresolved resource-sharing concerns which the new petroleum law has now addressed.
According to the new law, the National Government will take 75 percent of the revenue while County Government takes 20 percent and the Local Community takes 5 percent. The law is an improvement on a 2015 Bill, which would have limited the County and Community allocations based on the amounts received from the national government in the fiscal year. However, parliament is tasked with reviewing percentages within ten years to take into consideration any adjustments needed.
The new petroleum law would also be used to formulate national petroleum policy and conduct petroleum operations. It will be a reference point in the establishment of petroleum institutions.
The energy law which has just been signed, among other things, establishes three key national energy entities to manage and regulate energy resources in the country. They include the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation and the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority will be mandated to regulate generation, importation, exportation, transmission, distribution, supply and usage of electrical energy with the exception of licensing of nuclear facilities. It will also be tasked with regulating importation, refining, exportation, transportation, storage and sale of petroleum and petroleum products (crude oil not inclusive). It will also manage production, conversion, distribution, supply, marketing and usage of renewable energy.
The Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation shall oversee the implementation of the Rural Electrification Programme in Kenya, manage its Rural Electrification Programme Fund and also source for additional funds for the programme.
The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency will be required to propose policies and legislation necessary for the successful implementation of a nuclear power programme. It will also be required to ensure extensive public education and awareness on Kenya’s nuclear power programme.
The Urban Areas and Cities Amendment Bill will enable County Governments to review the criteria provided for classifying an area as a city, municipality, town or market centre.
President Kenyatta commended the Senate for the speedy passage of the bills, which he said are intended to “accelerate the efficient and quality service delivery to wananchi”. Wananchi is the Kiswahili word for “the public”.