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Kenya hosts phase one of Italy-Kenya geothermal business and investment forum

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in collaboration with Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security (MASE) hosted the 1st phase of Italy to Kenya Geothermal Business and Investment Forum aimed at introducing innovative solutions towards businesses, investments and future partnerships.

The forum themed, ‘Fostering international partnerships between companies and institutions in the Energy and Environment sector’ seeks to offer comprehensive overview illustrating legal frameworks, potentials and challenges faced.

Presiding over the forum at the Kawi Complex Auditorium, State Department for Energy Principal Secretary (PS) Alex Wachira said that energy is a basic input in the production and consumption process and added that it is instrumental in industrial productivity and economic growth in this modern economy.

He added that energy production is the single biggest contributor to global warming citing that Kenya has not been spared the severe negative impacts of climate change.

“We are currently experiencing severe drought with widespread livelihood loses and massive displacement of populations due to the immeasurable drought situation. More than 4.2 million Kenyans equivalent to 24 percent in the arid and semi-arid areas (ASALs) are facing acute food security,” said Wachira.

The PS noted that the world has transitioned energywise with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ thereby challenging the country to accelerate and increase the transition to net zero emissions.

“Energy is a strategic resource for all economic activities for many countries globally including Kenya. Energy Security faces a myriad of challenges that have adversely impacted nearly all factors of production,” Wachira.

In addition, he said that the Russia and Ukraine War had occasioned countries to experience unprecedented shortages of fuel among other critical resources bearing in mind that the government has prioritised geothermal energy development as the de-facto base load amongst vast and rich renewable energy sources.

Wachira lauded the government’s effort to increase the national installed electricity capacity from the current 1000 Megawatts to about 10,000Megawatts as outlined in the National Least Cost Power Plan from the year 2017 to 2037 with the bulk drawn from geothermal energy.

“To achieve this, the government has issued geothermal resources exploration and development licenses to two public power companies, Ken Gen and Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and 14 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to develop some of the existing 23 geothermal fields and prospects,” remarked Wachira.

Principal Secretary, State Department for Energy Alex Wachira gives a keynote address at Kawi Complex Nairobi on 27th March 2023 during an Italy-Kenya Business and Investment Forum on Geothermal. The one-day forum was attended by a delegation from Italy to discuss Fostering International Partnership companies/institutions in the Energy and Environment Sector between the two countries. Photos by Boniface Malinda/KNA

He also stated that the government is under pressure to meet the increasing grid demand for electricity and other emerging needs for alternative energy sources citing exploration opportunities such as green industrialization, industrial parks, transition to net zero emissions and regional power market sharing and trade.

Further, the PS maintained that the geothermal sector is expected to diversify the energy value key chain by enhancing integration use of steam to other economic sectors and direct use of applications like aquaculture, mining and eco-tourism among others.

Kenyan Ambassador to Italy Jackline Yonga applauded the partnership between Kenya, the government of Italy, UNIDO, GAK and IGU which has made it possible to meet important bilateral engagements.

Yonga commended both countries in coming together to explore areas of convergence in business and investment while applauding the business community for informing networks and managing innovations that make societies flourish over time.

“Kenya is a beautiful country renowned for our good nature, warmth and hospitality having you here is great pleasure,” uttered Yonga.

At the same time, Geothermal Association of Kenya (GAK) Chairman Paul Ngugi said that in 2022 United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Investment and Technology Promotion Office (UNIDO ITPO) together with GAK held two online geothermal conferences both of which attracted over 100 participants while providing valuable insights into unique challenges and opportunities in the market.

Ngugi added that the culmination of all this led to the Italy to Kenya 1st phase Business and Investment Geothermal Forum thus enabling partnership between institutions and companies.

“Over the past few years UNIDO ITPO Italy worked tirelessly to bring major stakeholders from both the public and private sector through company visits, both virtual and in person, and activities such as trade shows” Ngugi disclosed.

By Phinta Amondi

 

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