No. 141: Three AM Reads Late Edition: Kenya’s Geothermal Energy | Resilient Ivory Coast | Nigeria’s FX Reserves

Kenya Pushes Forward on Geothermal Plans

It’s fantastic seeing Kenya continue to make progress on its Vision 2030 plan to be generating 5000MW of geothermal energy by 2030. I was rooting for these projects back in 2011, so I’m glad they’re not making me look bad.

The groundbreaking for the 158MW Olkaria V geothermal site will bring Kenya’s geothermal capacity up to nearly 700MW upon completion. The country’s 5000MW goal is a ways off, but based on the progress made over these more than 15 years and the projects lined up for drilling like the Menengai field, the country could see that goal come into sight quickly.

Ivory Coast Confident Growth Will Continue

Ivory Coast is one of the more fantastic growth stories on the continent. The country was deep in civil war less than a decade ago with former president Gbagbo barricaded in his home. Today, Ivory Coast weathered the specter of another uprising and continued its push as one of the fastest African economies. Incredible.

Nigeria’s FX Reserves Getting Oxygen

The past couple of years have been rough for Nigeria’s FX reserves as oil prices continued to drop, while Nigeria’s government was operating off a budget that assumed much higher oil prices. This left Nigeria’s FX reserves on the struggle bus as the country pulled all the stops to keep things moving. While the reserves have a ways to go before Nigeria is in a comfortable position, it is an encouraging sign to see the reserves account trending up.

No. 124: 3 Tuesday PM Reads – Power Struggle | Renewables Rescue the Day |Startups for Demographics

  1. Jacqueline Musiitwa shares personal anecdotes on the struggle of working in Lusaka when the power is out. Lights off is a situation Africans across the continent experience, and it impacts education, bottom lines, and general quality of life – for women, especially. Jacqueline points to initiatives like the Power Africa initiative as important in alleviating unreliable power supply across the continent.

  2. Speaking of power, Jake Cusack and other players in the renewable energy space recently shared insights on the possibilities for renewable energy and power provision now that renewable energy costs are competitive with fossil fuels. Some highlights from the piece – global subsidies for coal, oil, and natural gas totaling $550b compared to $120b for renewables; 10k customers in African countries signing up for renewable energy; and global investments in renewable energy growing from $40b in 2004 to $320b in 2011.

  3. Ablorde Ashigbi wrote a really solid analysis of the prospects for venture-backed firms seeking to serve a particular demographic. He uses Walker & Company and its first brand Bevel, a shaving system targeting black men (whenever I get out of Sampson mode and shave my beard, I look forward to using the product) as a case study.

No. 41: Three Things in African Markets You Need to Know This Week – October 28

President Zuma Skips Monday’s innovaBRICS & Beyond Conferencelink

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma cancelled his scheduled Monday appearance in London at the innovaBRICS conference, hosted by Deloitte. South African publication City Press reported that President Zuma cancelled his appearance due to not being able to secure a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, a claim the Presidency denies. Apparently, this is his second time canceling an appearance in London in the past year. I do not know how these things go in diplomatic circles, but I am sure a few folks involved in the planning for this let out a few curses. I also wonder if President Zuma’s inability to land a meeting with Prime Minister Cameron had some connection to South Africa’s refusal of the Dalai Lama’s visa application to the attend the Nobel Peace conference in Cape Town that was scheduled for October 13, but postponed due to protests from other Nobel laureates.

Nigerian Stock Exchange Keeps Moving On Up linkThe Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) announced this morning that it secured full membership to the World Federation of Exchanges. The NSE has been going through the process of securing membership for the past three years, pretty much the entire time that its CEO, Oscar Onyema, has been leading the company. Other notable members include Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and four other African exchanges – the Egyptian Exchange, Bourse de Casablanca, Stock Exchange of Mauritius, and Johannesburg Stock Exchange. This membership serves as another notch in the belt as the NSE strengthens its operations and positions itself as a ideal platform for global investors to place their funds.

East African Countries Continue Exploration of Geothermal Energylink

The 5th African Rift Geothermal Conference takes place this Wednesday through Friday in Tanzania. For the past several years East African countries have been working to tap into the region’s geothermal energy potential. Kenya plans to have geothermal energy make up about 5,000MW of its energy portfolio by 2030. The country currently has capacity of 210MW, according to KenInvest, the country’s investment promotion arm. The rest of the region is still in exploration mode, excluding Ethiopia which has about 7MW of capacity.

No. 20: African Countries Drive Geothermal Development Amid US-China Brinksmanship

A geothermal well at the Menengai crater. Credit: Suleiman Mbatiah

United Nations climate talks end today in South Africa and the United States and China are playing chicken on who will take the lead in stewarding the environment well while also driving economic development. Quietly, Kenya has signed major deals just this year that will see the opening of at least three plants that will grow Kenya’s geothermal capacity to 514 megawatts (MW) by 2014. By 2030, Kenya aims for geothermal energy to make up 5000 MW of the total 15,000 MW of power the country will produce to meet growing demand – an estimated $16 billion investment. Imagine that, an African country driving the uptake of clean and renewable energy.

Experts estimate that Kenya has the potential to generate 7,000 MW to 10,000 MW. The country began developing geothermal in the 1980s and currently produces about 209 MW. In 2008, the country set its geothermal power goal in the Vision 2030 strategic plan. Since that time Kenya has aggressively grown geothermal with the 36 MW expansion of the 48 MW Olkaria III, the construction of the 280 MW Olkaria IV, and the drilling of the 1,600 MW Menengai field.

Contrary to what the Wall Street Journal reported on December 6, Kenya is not the only African country developing geothermal energy. Kenya lies within the East African Rift System that runs 6,500km from Tunisia to Mozambique. In a recent conversation with Dr. Meseret Zemedkun of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), she explained that some countries in the East African region are looking to complement their current hydropower capacity, while others like Eritrea and Djibouti are looking for primary renewable energy sources. Ethiopia has drilled a pilot 7 MW plant. Eritrea is conducting detailed exploration. Djibouti is drilling wells, and Uganda and Rwanda are conducting semi-detailed and detailed exploration.

According to Dr. Zemedkun, “[African] countries are very keen to develop their resources.” She cited the high availability rate of geothermal compared to hydropower – 90-95 percent versus 50-55 percent. Changes in weather impact the availability of hydropower whereas geothermal energy is not impacted by changes in weather. Furthermore, enhanced technology is reducing the unit price of geothermal energy, increasing its accessibility to African countries.

Dr. Zemedkun is currently driving the African Rift Geothermal Project, an initiative that brings together several African countries in working to build their geothermal capacity. It also helps reduce the risks of exploration through exploration studies, site selection, and surface exploration. UNEP partners with the World Bank in this work, leveraging its risk mitigation fund to further the exploration of geothermal energy.

I am excited about the work Kenya is doing to develop its geothermal energy capacity. Its leadership has also kickstarted the exploration of geothermal energy in other countries along the East African Rift System. Hopefully, the US and China will figure out a way to do their part and contribute to the preservation of this earth while meeting the economic needs of their citizens.