AfDB Regional Director Visits Menengai Geothermal Project
Mr. Gabriel Negatu, AfDB’s Regional Director in charge of the East African Regional Centre (EARC), paid an official visit to the Bank-funded Menengai geothermal site in Kenya’s Rift Valley last Friday. The 400 MW project will cost approximately US $488 million, with the AfDB providing US $120 million, and is expected to increase the country’s installed capacity by almost 30 per cent.
The geothermal project is an integral part of Kenya’s Vision 2030, under which the government has set for itself the goal of becoming energy self-sufficient to drive the increasing needs of the fast-growing economy. Kenya’s Rift Valley region is especially rich in geothermal resources and the government has placed special emphasis on tapping this natural and environmentally friendly resource through the establishment of the Geothermal Development Company (GDC).
Mr. Negatu was guided through the Menengai project by GDC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Silas Simiyu, alongside representatives from both institutions.
During the tour, Mr. Negatu expressed his satisfaction with the pace of implementation of the first phase of the project, which was officially launched by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki earlier this year.
The Menengai Geothermal Development Project is situated within the eastern sector of the African Rift system, about 180 km northwest of Nairobi. The project aims to develop the Menengai geothermal steam field to produce enough steam for a 400 MW power plant that will be operated by the private sector as an Independent Power Producer (IPP) or through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
The project will enable a substantial increase in the provision of additional reliable, clean and affordable power generation capacity to Kenyan households, businesses and industries, with an increase equivalent to 26 per cent of the current total installed generation capacity in the country. The steam field development will produce electricity generation equivalent to the consumption needs of up nearly 500,000 households, of which 70,000 are in rural areas, and 300,000 small businesses, as well as providing 1,000 GWh of energy to businesses and industries. The project will also reduce CO2 emissions by close to 2 million tons per annum.
Access to clean energy is expected to significantly improve health and education opportunities, particularly for women and girls in the area. The project will also ensure an employment ratio of 30 per cent women, which is considerably higher than the standards of small towns in the region. The transfer of the potable water facility to the community/municipality will positively impact and empower women who normally collect water for domestic purposes.