Eastern Africa has a real need for locally generated electricity, and the Eastern Africa Rift System offers huge opportunities for the generation of geothermal energy — but until now, companies have been reluctant to conduct exploratory drilling, due to the high costs associated with a lack of success. That may change, as Africa and Europe in Partnership recently announced a new facility that will provide grants to significantly offset the costs of initial exploratory drilling.
The Geothermal Risk Management Facility will be hosted by the African Union Commission and funded by the German government and the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, which have committed €20 million and will be co-financing up to €30 million respectively. Grants will cover up to 40 percent of the costs of initial exploratory drilling for subterranean areas suitable for the development of geothermal power facilities, helping to develop access to and promoting the use of clean, renewable energy to improve living conditions and protect the environment.
All this comes per the objectives for the African energy sector within the framework of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) study, which aims to connect and upgrade infrastructure networks in the fields of transport, energy and information communications technology.
Those energy developers who succeed in discovering such pockets and in securing funding to subsequent phases of power plant construction within 18 months — helping to turn the potential 4,000 MW to 15,000 MW of geothermal available in the region into a reality — will receive an additional success premium through the fund.