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The Eighth African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGEO C8) under the theme Energy and sustainability, seizing the moment to invest in geothermal resources for sustainable development, opens virtually today.
Over 500 experts, governments, civils society, academia and the private sector representatives from Africa and the world converge to discuss the agenda of regional cooperation and accelerating geothermal development in Africa.
The conference is hosted by the Government of Kenya, in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Geothermal Association, Kenya Electricity Generating Company, Geothermal Development Company as well as the Geothermal Association of Kenya.
“The African Union recognises that geothermal development requires regional cooperation, capacity development, the private sector participation and international institutions to invest in geothermal in the region,” said Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy. She reiterated the need for the role of women to be visible and mainstreamed throughout the geothermal value chain.
About 600 million people in Africa lack access to energy and another 600 million depend on biomass which significantly undermines economic growth in the continent. The conference comes at a time when Africa is making significant progress towards investment in green and renewable energy as well as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 7 on energy.
Hon. Charles Keter, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Kenya said that the outcomes from this conference will promote regional cooperation and set a stage for exchange of information on exploration, development, investment and utilization of resources in the region. He emphasised the need for innovation and capacity building in geothermal development to empower the economic and social growth in the continent.
The conference provides Kenya with a platform to build partnership with other African Countries who are in their various stages of geothermal development to deepen cooperation in skill, capacity and technology transfer.
Invited to the opening of the conference, H.E. Olafur Ragnar Grimson, former President of Iceland and Global Geothermal Ambassador said that his country’s investment in geothermal energy has made it a model that can inspire many countries.
The high-level ministerial roundtable discussion will focus on policies and strategies to accelerate geothermal development for both power generation and direct use applications. Innovative financing mechanisms for geothermal and regional cooperation between the African Rift countries developing geothermal programmes will also be discussed.
“This conference contributes to the achievement of the “UN Sustainable Energy for All” initiative launched in 2012 by the UN Secretary General. It responds to the continent’s environmental and sustainable development policy and strategic processes. It is also aligned to the 10-year framework action plan of the African Union Agenda 2063,” said Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Regional Director for Africa, UNEP.
“The 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,” added Dr. Biao.
Over 100 experts from 13 African countries have benefited from a 4 preconference practical courses facilitated by UNEP in partnership with imminent experts in the geothermal field.