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USAID and US GEA announce public-private partnership for East Africa

USAID and US GEA announce public-private partnership for East Africa Eburru Wellhead Geothermal Power Plant by KenGen, Kenya (source: Geothermal Development Associates)
Alexander Richter 19 Jun 2012

USAID and the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association announce a public-private partnership initiative to support geothermal development in East Africa supporting U.S. expertise and technology to be applied in Africa.

Last week, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association signed a MOU agreement today to help develop East Africa’s geothermal resources. At the annual meeting of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, USAID’s Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, Michael Curtis, and Karl Gawell, Executive Director for the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association said the region’s geothermal resources have the potential to address power shortages in East African countries along the Rift Valley.

This is an interesting development as in the last year or so geothermal support has predominantly come from either European or Asian sources, such as the European development banks, but also Japanese and Chinese development funds. There are several American companies that either have worked in Africa or could support development in the East African rift. These companies include, Ormat (already involved in the Olkaria field in Kenya) and Geothermal Development Associates (GDA that has worked in Kenya, but also Ethiopia).

“America is a leader in geothermal energy technology, and the utilization of this type of clean energy is relatively un-tapped in Africa.  This partnership offers tremendous opportunities for U.S. geothermal companies to become major players in East Africa,” said Michael Curtis.

Power is among the biggest challenges to developing Africa’s infrastructure.  Electricity is more expensive in Africa than anywhere in the world, and in response to recent droughts, many African governments have had to rely on more expensive, less clean oil-fired generation. There is also increasing interest by governments in the region to developing clean, renewable, alternative sources of energy.

“This partnership is not just between USAID and GEA, but between America and the people of East Africa.  Developing the tremendous, virtually untapped geothermal resources of East Africa will have huge benefit to the region, and U.S. firms have the expertise and experience to help.  Together, we can get the job done and bring clean, reliable power to millions of people,” said Gawell.

To address these challenges, USAID plans to provide funding to make the world-class U.S. geothermal expertise available to the East Africa region, and in the process, allow U.S. companies to become more familiar with business opportunities in the East African marketplace.  Under this win-win situation, East African countries will benefit from U.S. expertise, and U.S. companies will benefit from increased exposure and market reach into East Africa.  The geothermal program ultimately aims to decrease the costs associated with grid-based power generation systems, train host country geoscientists and engineers, build host government and private sector capacity, create US jobs, and attract private investment into the region.

More details via the website of USAID att www.usaid.gov and the website of the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association, at http://www.geo-energy.org/

Source: Release by email