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Geothermal development in Eastern Africa

The East African Rift region holds significant geothermal potential. This report offers recommendations to fast-track regional geothermal energy development.


Recommendations for power and direct use

The countries of the East African Rift region hold significant geothermal potential, giving them valuable options for sustainable electricity production and direct use. Harnessing these resources can provide a renewable, affordable and stable energy supply. It can also help countries to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement.

Despite the region’s economic challenges, plants in Ethiopia and Kenya have attained geothermal power generation capacity of about 900 megawatts-electric (MWe). Exploration drilling confirms untapped resources at both deep and shallow levels across the region.

This report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) – drawing on lessons from the Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia – offers recommendations to create enabling conditions and fast-track regional geothermal energy development.

Among other findings:

  • Transparent, clear and predictable licensing and administrative procedures are needed to attract geothermal developers and investors.
  • Innovative financing approaches would improve the effectiveness of existing financing and risk mitigation instruments for geothermal projects.
  • Decision makers, communities and industries need to know more about the possibilities and benefits of geothermal energy for direct uses.
  • Specific exploration techniques could open geothermal reservoirs along fault planes and at shallow depth in the western branch of the East African Rift.
  • Public institutions need training, capacity building and mentoring through on-the-job training, not only for technical skills but also commercial knowledge and support in decision making.
  • Governments and development partners must work together to advance and accelerate the region’s geothermal development.