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Minister of Infrastructure, Amb. Claver Gatete urged experts and leaders in the Geothermal industry to join efforts to address sector challenges with a target to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Minister Gatete calls for synergies to address Geothermal resource challenges

Kigali, 31 October 2018 – Minister of Infrastructure, Ambassador Claver Gatete has launched the seventh African Geothermal Conference (ARGeo-C7) hosted by the Government of Rwanda from 29 October to 2 November 2018 under the theme “Seizing the moment: Investing in geothermal for sustainable development.”

ARGeo-C7 brought together more than 300 delegates of 13 countries from across Africa and beyond.

Minister Claver Gatete commended this forum which takes place at a time “when the world is experiencing Global warming effects and consequently the climate change has significantly affected sources of renewable energy such as hydro”. 

He mentioned that the ARGeo-C7 is coupled with population growth and increase in wealth leading to high demand for energy which brings stress on traditional sources of energy. To this end, geothermal energy is seen as a reliable option.

Talking about Geothermal energy, Minister Gatete noted that it is one of the most promising renewable energy sources that have proven to be reliable, clean, safe and sustainable. 

However, he said “Geothermal energy contributes a tiny proportion of the world’s primary energy consumption and produces less than 1% of the world’s output in electricity generation according to the World Energy Council report on Geothermal, 2016”.

In Rwanda, he added “there are positive indicators of geothermal potential along East African Rift Valley and Volcanic areas, but we still need further studies towards resource exploration and development”.

Minister Gatete underscored that Rwanda has installed capacity of 218 MW with a target to reach at least 586 MW and universal access to electricity by 2024. “To achieve these targets requires the use of different available renewable energy resources in our country including geothermal and solar off grid which is in line with Sustainable Development Goal No: 7 of Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, he mentioned.  

He finally called upon all stakeholders to enhance synergies among national, regional, and continental actors and reinforce cooperation with international partners for the effective application of geothermal energy technologies resulting in measures that will help to achieve Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) on the continent. 

The Regional Representative and Director of United Nations Environment Africa Office Dr. Juliette Biao highlighted that the 7th ARGeo conference will crystalize earlier discussions on direct use applications of geothermal resources in productive sectors such as agriculture, aquaculture, and agro-industry, among others. “Building on the ongoing focus on large-scale power generation from geothermal resources, this year’s conference focusses on the small-scale and modular generation of power from medium temperature geothermal resources,” she noted. 

She further mentioned that energy poverty remains a serious obstacle to economic and human development in most parts of the African continent. “Africa requires between $60 billion and $90 billion annually to address its energy shortfall, roughly quadruple 2014 investment levels. Countries in Africa need to urgently bridge the existing energy gap”, she said, adding that “Currently, only 25% of the African population has access to electricity, and more than 70% dependent on the traditional biomass fuels which cause widespread deforestation, erosion, and loss of fertility of arable land”.

Other speakers including the Executive Director of Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa, Dr Bilay Ejigu and the Director of Infrastructure and Energy at African Union Commission, Dr. Cheick Bedda, mentioned that the seventh geothermal conference is taking place at a very pivotal time when the implementation of global 2030 Agenda - Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Africa Union Development Agenda 2063 - “the Africa we want,” and the Paris Agreement 2015, are on-going top priority for governments across the continent. They noted that the successful development of geothermal resources is expected to contribute to the achievement of the “National Determined Contribution-NDC’s” targets to reduce Green House Gas emissions under the framework of Paris Agreement 2015. 

According to the Renewables Global Status 2018 report, the US has the largest geothermal generating capacity with 2,500 megawatts followed by the Philippines (1,900 MW), Indonesia (1,800 MW), Turkey (1,100 MW), New Zealand (1000 MW), Mexico (900 MW), Italy (800 MW) and Iceland (750 MW). 

In Africa, the geothermal potential is over 20,000 MW of electricity, which is distributed along the East African Rift Valley and Kenya is the Africa’s lead country with a potential of up to 10,000 MW distributed across more than twenty prospect areas mainly within the Kenya tertiary rift valley with over 600 MW installed capacity. Ethiopia generates about 7MW of geothermal power. Other countries like Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Comoros have done preliminary exploration.

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