Desalination Plants

Lapsset Corridor Desalination Plants

Kenya does have desalination plants, but not yet on a large scale, here is an example of Cape Town in South Africa.

USD 200 million


Almar Water Solutions, part of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, has been awarded a contract to develop Kenya’s first large-scale desalination plant in 2018. The project is located in the North Mainland zone in the county of Mombasa and will have a capacity of 100,000 cubic meters per day or 100 million litres per day, supplying clean drinking water to over a million people.

Here is a Solar PV desalination plant example:

  • Existing Plants: There are currently a few operational solar-powered desalination plants in Kenya, primarily serving specific communities or regions. These plants have capacities ranging from 15,000 to 70,000 liters of water per day.
    • Examples include plants in Mombasa and Lamu counties (source: CO2balance – Republic of Kenya – Solar Desalination Farms: [invalid URL removed]).
  • Planned Large-Scale Plants: There are plans for larger desalination plants in Kenya, particularly along the coast.
    • The Mombasa Mainland Desalination Plant project, with a planned capacity of 100,000 cubic meters per day, is an example (source: Almar Water Solutions – Mombasa desalination plant:

Overall: While desalination is not yet a widespread solution in Kenya, there are existing and planned projects that demonstrate the country’s growing interest in this technology for addressing water scarcity challenges.

Regarding the Cape town desalination plant – we will look at the daily capacity produced and what was the cost to build the plant and what can the water be sold for per litre. There isn’t one single large-scale desalination plant in Cape Town. Here’s a breakdown of the situation:

  • Temporary Emergency Plants:
    • During the Cape Town drought (2015-2018), several temporary desalination plants were built as emergency measures. These plants have since been decommissioned.
  • Planned Permanent Plant:

Cost of Temporary Plants:

Cost of Planned Permanent Plant:

Water Selling Price:

  • The exact selling price of desalinated water in Cape Town is difficult to pinpoint. However, we can look at a few factors that influence the price:
    • Production Cost: The desalination plant’s operation and maintenance costs will significantly impact the water price.
    • Municipal Rates: The City of Cape Town sets water tariffs, which include a fixed component and a consumption-based component. The desalinated water might be included within the existing water tariff structure or have a separate rate depending on its production cost.

South Africa Capetown water problems

1,000 litres of water for USD 0.50 per litre using solar PV electricity. The exact size of a desalination plant achievable with a USD 20 million budget in Kenya depends on several factors:

  • Desalination Technology: The chosen desalination technology significantly impacts the cost.
    • Thermal Desalination: Generally more expensive due to high energy consumption.
    • Membrane Desalination (Reverse Osmosis): Often the preferred choice for smaller-scale plants due to lower energy requirements.
  • Plant Location: Costs can vary depending on factors like land availability, construction costs in the specific region, and required infrastructure (pipelines, intake/outfall structures).
  • Plant Design: The complexity of the plant design (e.g., pre-treatment facilities) can influence the cost.

Here’s a possible scenario:

  • Technology: Considering the budget and focus on smaller scale, Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination is a likely option.
  • Location: Let’s assume a coastal location with readily available seawater intake and discharge points.

Based on these assumptions, a desalination plant with a capacity of around 5,000 to 10,000 cubic meters per day could be a possibility within a USD 20 million budget in Kenya.

Here’s why this is an estimate:

  • Existing Examples: Small-scale solar-powered RO desalination plants in Kenya already exist, with capacities ranging from 15,000 to 70,000 liters per day (source: CO2balance – Republic of Kenya – Solar Desalination Farms: [invalid URL removed]). Scaling this concept up using a larger budget could reach the 5,000-10,000 cubic meter daily range.

Important Considerations:

  • This is a rough estimate. Actual plant size achievable for USD 20 million can vary depending on the factors mentioned earlier.
  • The operating costs of the plant, including energy consumption for RO desalination and maintenance, need to be factored in for long-term sustainability.


  • Conduct a feasibility study considering specific location, technology options, and construction costs in Kenya to determine the most realistic plant size achievable within the USD 20 million budget.

To convert cubic meters per day (m³/day) into liters per day (L/day), we simply multiply by 1000, because there are 1000 liters in one cubic meter.

Here’s the calculation for both the minimum and maximum values you provided:

  • Minimum (5,000 cubic meters per day):
    • 5,000 m³/day * 1000 L/m³ = 5,000,000 L/day
  • Maximum (10,000 cubic meters per day):
    • 10,000 m³/day * 1000 L/m³ = 10,000,000 L/day