22 November 2012

East Africa: Regional Block Wants Joint Geothermal Policies

Photo: AfDB
The government plans to increase power generation in the country through geothermal energy (file photo).

East African countries are exploring a possibility of joint geothermal development plans and funding to fast-track projects.

Speaking at the ongoing African Rift Geothermal conference, Ugandan minister for energy Simon D'Ujanga said this would create a shared pool of technical experts, funding negotiators, and exchange of best practices. He said this would significantly reduce the time it takes for the projects to start.

"Uganda or Tanzania can skip challenges faced by Kenya at the inception of its projects tapping into the Kenyan experiences instead of relieving the problems in isolation," said Dujunga.

Kenya is the only country among the EAC Rift Valley countries that has already connected geothermal to its national grid and is developing the largest project in the world at Olkaria.

Ethiopia which has possible 700 megawatt geothermal generation capacity is on course to develop its first well, while Uganda has crafted policies and legal framework to develop an estimated 5,000 megawatts. Tanzania is yet to make policies for geothermal exploitation.

Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi told development partners to team up and present their interests in specific projects jointly to save governments from endless fragmented negotiations that delay projects.

"It would be prudent for investors, donors and development partners to fit into single baskets for faster and co-ordinated negotiations for specific projects to reduce time wasted at negotiation stages," said Murungi.

He told the conference to come up with solutions to challenges including funding and human resource training before the next bi-annual summit.

Over 600 delegates, among them government representatives, insurers, development fund agencies and exhibitors are attending the conference.

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