Kenya Geothermal Congress 2024: Powering the Nation's Future

Ol Karia 1 geothermal power station in Naivasha, Kenya.

Photo credit: Geothermal Association of Kenya

By Fanuel Were Ongwara

The Kenya Geothermal Congress is set to take place on July 16-21, 2024 at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi. This is an important event in the nation's energy sector. It is a gathering of policy makers, energy sector professionals, investors, service providers, financing institutions, and academic and research institutions, among other stakeholders.

The congress seeks to highlight available investment opportunities for public and private sectors, to fast-track development of over 10,000MWe to align with Kenya's Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda, Vision 2030, environmental and social benefits, manufacturing, and industrialisation.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are particularly significant, as they combine the strengths of both sectors to overcome challenges such as high initial capital costs and technological barriers. The congress will emphasise the importance of PPPs in driving large-scale geothermal projects.

Background

Over the last 60 years, Kenya has developed less than 10 percent of the estimated geothermal potential of 10,000MWe, mainly for generation of electricity. Other potential uses of geothermal energy, including manufacturing and industrialisation, have not been utilised as a cornerstone for the country’s energy security and economic development, and reduction of the nation's carbon footprint.

Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA)

BETA focuses on, among others, empowering marginalised communities and fostering inclusive economic growth. Geothermal energy projects exemplify this approach by creating employment opportunities, enhancing local economies, and supporting community development. The congress will highlight how geothermal projects are improving infrastructure, integrating local communities, offering job training programmes, and fostering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Vision 2030: A Sustainable Future

The congress seeks to align geothermal development to Kenya's Vision 2030, which aims to transform the nation into a newly industrialising, middle-income country by providing a high quality of life to all its citizens. Energy is a key enabler of this vision, with geothermal energy positioned as a sustainable and reliable power source.

The congress will showcase advancements in geothermal technology, innovation, and investment opportunities in the sector. The event therefore provides a platform for strategic partnerships and attracting investments.

Environmental and Social Benefits

In addition to economic advantages, geothermal energy offers substantial environmental benefits. It is a clean, renewable source that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The Congress will address environmental sustainability, highlighting practices that minimise ecological impact and promote biodiversity.

Through Public Private Development Partnerships (PPDP), geothermal projects deliver social benefits to the local communities.

Regional Opportunities

Other countries in East Africa with geothermal potential include Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Comoros. The estimated potential, which is largely undeveloped, is over 20,000MWe. Kenya, together with other development partners, has provided support for the early phases of geothermal development. This congress seeks to bring together members from these countries to bring together opportunities available for investment and associated services.

Conclusion

Kenya Geothermal Congress 2024 represents more than just an industry event. It symbolises Kenya's dedication to sustainable development, economic inclusivity, and technological advancement.

Aligned with BETA and the Vision 2030, the Congress highlights the crucial role of geothermal energy in shaping Kenya's future. As the nation harnesses its geothermal potential, it strives toward a more sustainable and economically inclusive future.