A United Nations agency has ranked Kenya as the global leader in the use of its geothermal resources to generate energy.
The UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) said that while Kenya was ranked at position eight in geothermal potential, its utilization of the resource to generate energy was unmatched in the world.
“Kenya is ranked Number Eight in geothermal resources nut Number One in the utilization of geothermal resources,” UNIDO’s director general Li Yong said at the agency’s offices in Vienna, Austria as he met Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency ministerial conference.
Kenya boasts of geothermal resources in Olkaria and Menengai which have been utilizes to inject 800 megawatts of power to the national grid. Mr Keter, however, clarified that Kenya was still far away from reaching the optimum utilization of the geothermal potential, which is tapped by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and its sibling, the Geothermal Development Company (GDC).
He explained that Kenya was seeking the inclusion of the private sector in the utilization of the geothermal potential, which is estimated at 10,000 megawatts, under the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) arrangement.
“With a resource of about 10,000 megawatts, we are only doing 800 megawatts. This is why we are opening up the fields to the private sector to optimize our potential,” he said.
During the side meeting with the Energy CS which also attended by KenGen managing director Rebecca Miano and Kenya National Electricity Board (KNEB) director general Collins Juma, Mr Yong challenged Kenya to use its natural resources to spur industrialization.
He said UNIDO was ready to help Kenya to establish industrial parks in areas endowed with resources such as land, water and electricity to trigger the country’s economic growth. “May be we could help establish industrial parks because you have land, water and geothermal resources. We work with government institutions to develop national industrial development plans and strategies and bring in development partners to help countries grow,” he said.
He clarified further: “We have good projects and Kenya has a big potential to move ahead grow in industrialization.”
However, he warned that Kenya was being overtaken by neighbouring Ethiopia in industrialization through light industries which have been established with the help of UNIDO.
“In 2014, we helped Ethiopia develop agro processing plants and industrial parks for leather and textile industries. Senegal, early this month, opened its first industrial park. Ethiopia’s light industry is worrying and Kenya has to be careful least it is overtaken,” he warned.
While acknowledging UNIDO’s grant of Euros 2.8 million to develop capacity in geothermal, Mr Keter said the Ministry of Energy was supporting industrialization by provision of affordable, stable and clean energy which has reduced the thermal component in the energy mix to less than 700 megawatts.
He also revealed that KenGen has applied for a license to establish eco-development parks to help addition of value to agricultural products. “KenGen is at the tail end of establishing eco-development parks and we are seeking UNIDO’s support in this venture,” he said.
Mrs Miano, KenGen’s managing director, said they have identified land and were going through the process of procurement in preparation to establish the parks mainly in Naivasha. “We are at the procurement stage and once we are done, the eco-development parks will be established,” she said during the meeting.
Mr Yong assured the CS and his delegation that UNIDO will support the establishment of industrial parks by KenGen. “Kenya will be on the list of countries we want to support. I really like the idea of eco-development parks because you have energy, water and land. So long as the design is good, you will succeed,” he said.
Mr Keter urged UNIDO to support Kenya in the generation of power through waste energy.