Geothermal: Solution for Africa Energy Needs!

The Donor Agreement Between The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs And International Cooperation Of The Italian Republic - Directorate General For Development Cooperation (The Donor) And The United Nations Environment Programme

15 May 2017

UN Environment Headquarter, Media Room
Nairobi, Kenya

The Signing Agreement Ceremony between UN Environment and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation took place on 15 May 2017 at the UN Environment Headquarter in Nairobi, Kenya. This was in partnership with Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen), the Kenya Geothermal Development Company (GDC), IGA- African Regional Branch and the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum.

The purpose of this agreement is for the Government of Italy to provide the technical assistance (through UN Environment) to the Government of Kenya for accelerating the geothermal resources development in Kenya. The duration of this project is to run for about two years with a total cost of EUR0 300, 000.

The ceremony was opened by the Deputy Regional Director for UN Environment Africa office, Dr. Frank Turyatunga with kind welcoming remarks to the participating delegates. He began by acknowledging the milestone made through this agreement and that it also signifies the fact that UN Environment has been appreciated and entrusted by the donors and partners to support governments in Africa more so in the environmental dimension of the coherent implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. “This also works to further define the global agenda 2030 as well as the Africa Union Agenda 2063, including also the Paris Agreement on climate change”, he added.

Dr. Frank stated that for Africa to optimally implement the SDGs the region needs to leverage the catalytic sectors, one being Energy and more so Clean Renewable Energy. With this he cited that Africa has abundance of renewable energy resources and this only needs to be efficiently tapped and utilized to catalyze the continents economic and social environmental development. “In particular Kenya has made remarkable progress in development and generation of 653 MW from Olkaria and Eburru geothermal fields as well as an additional 105MW from Menengai”, said Dr. Frank Turyatunga.

It is against this backdrop that the Government of Kenya wishes to request the technical assistance from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through UN Environment to enhance and strengthen the started activities of geothermal resources in Eburru, Suswa, as well as Elementaita and Baringo geothermal prospects; through KenGen and GDC.

Mr. David Muthike, Strategy & Business Performance Director at KenGen, later followed up by acknowledging UN Environment’s support in making geothermal exploration and development possible and a reality in Kenya. Having said that Mr. Muthike also appreciated the Italian support in this regard and acknowledged Italy as being one of the forefronts when it comes to geothermal technology, skills and development.

“We are also very aware of the SDGs, particularly SDG #7 of affordable and clean energy; and our strategy is focused on geothermal targeting 720MW in the next five years and a bigger picture of over 2100 MW in the next ten years”, said Mr. Muthike. Another SGD that he cited was Number 13 of climate action, where he mentioned Hydro Power as their main renewable energy resource, but due to recent draughts that have affected the country; he believes geothermal renewable energy therefore as a key alternative. Last but not least the Mr. Muthike, mentioned SDG #17 on partnership as very important for them and therefore this agreement with the Italians and UN environment sits very well with KenGen.

Engineer Johnson Ole Nchoe, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Geothermal Development Company (GDC), acknowledged that this signing agreement is a culmination of a long journey and a sign of good news to come and appreciated all the efforts made therein. Therefore he reiterated GDC’s support in this regard and that they are open to assist and partner in this agreement.

The Italian Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Mauro Massoni mentioned that it is a great pleasure for him on behalf of the Italian Embassy and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation to attend this signing agreement organized by UN Environment to celebrate Italy’s support to the project of Technical Assistance for accelerating geothermal development in Kenya. He mentioned that this agreement will provide technical assistance in terms of Assessment of ground water resources for acquiring water for drilling and community use; Environment, social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Resource identification of Low to medium temperature geothermal systems for power generation and direct use application in Kenya. “Nevertheless the true development of geothermal potential can be reached sustainably only if it takes into account social, economic and environmental aspects. On this issue technical assistance is essential to ensure the sound and environmentally friendly development of the enormous energy potential lying underneath”, he said.

"Using geothermal energy instead of natural gas heating and electrical air conditioning reduces the greenhouse gas emissions that would be produced by the building by over 168 tons of carbon dioxide per year. So, the ecological impact or 'footprint' of the building is also reduced." Leslie Thomas