African Countries Agree to Strengthen Cooperation on Geothermal Production

Posted on :Monday , 16th November 2020

More than 500 experts, governments, civil society, academia and private sector representatives from Africa and other regions have agreed on the agenda for regional cooperation and accelerated geothermal growth in Africa, as concluded by the Eighth African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGEO C8) on 6 November.

Participants acknowledged the need for capacity development for geothermal practitioners to ensure the successful development of these projects through the newly developed Africa Geothermal Center of Excellence. In order to ensure effective exploration and growth, it was decided that geothermal resources should be rooted in knowledge-based exploration that informs decision-makers of the development of appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks.

The five-day virtual conference on "Energy and sustainability, taking the time to invest in geothermal resources for sustainable growth" was organised by the Government of Kenya in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the African branch of the International Geothermal Association, the Kenya Electricity Generation Company, and Geothermal Development.

In his opening remarks, Charles Keter, Kenya's Secretary of State for Energy, highlighted the need for innovation and capacity building in geothermal production to fuel economic and social growth in the continent.  

“This Conference provides Kenya with a platform to build partnerships with other African countries who are in various stages of geothermal development, and to deepen cooperation in skill, capacity and technology transfer,” Keter said.

Participants acknowledged the direct use of geothermal energy as a potential game-changer for the economies and livelihoods of rural communities across the continent through meaningful community involvement in the creation and implementation of geothermal projects.  

Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Director and Regional Representative for the Africa Office of UNEP, said that the conference and its results would lead to the achievement of the SDGs Target 7 on affordable and renewable energy.  

“Renewable energy can and will change the African energy challenges and narrative. Energy-use statistics in Africa reveal a worrying scenario; Africa has 13 % of the global population, yet its share in global electricity consumption is less than 3%, and only 25% of Africans have access to electricity. More than 70% of Africa is dependent on traditional biomass fuels,” she said.

Delegates decided to increase the geothermal resources installed with a capacity of at least 2,500 MW of electricity in the area by 2030. Geothermal stakeholders will continue to work with UNEP under the ARGeo programme to develop regional networking networks to raise awareness of the potential of geothermal resources in Africa.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former President of Iceland, also spoke at the conference, revealing that his country's rapid industrial growth has been fuelled by its investment in renewable energy projects in the development of geothermal energy.  

“We advocate for food production to be part of the geothermal development dimension. Solar, wind power and geothermal energy is the foundation to help us fight the pandemic of fossil fuel pollution and dirty energy, which kills as many as approximately 7 million people around the world. We are determined to continue this geothermal cooperation with African countries,” he said.

In its remarks at the virtual conference, Amani Abu-Zeid, Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure of the African Union (AU), confirmed that the AU recognises the need for regional cooperation, as well as the involvement of the private sector and international institutions to invest in order to accelerate the production of geothermal resources in the region. She reiterated the need to improve the skills of homegrown experts through regional institutions, and also stressed the need for women to be pre-educated.

Delegates also agreed to work through the newly launched Africa Women Advancing Geothermal and the African Geothermal Association to strengthen cooperation and knowledge sharing in the field.

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