East Africa

Arriving in Nairobi on Monday brought back memories of last year’s Future Energy East Africa conference, which addressed topics such as electrification rates and mini-grid development in a region where geothermal power plays high on the generation agenda.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/09/18

My thoughts turned to whether any developments have transpired in the past 12 months that would spark my interest and keep this regional hub on its toes. Was I setting myself up for disappointment, thinking that conversations and presentations were going to elicit new information?

Well, with yesterday’s keynote presentations and the numerous discussions (some heated) I had with visitors to the ESI-Africa booth, it was from disappointing – they were energised and filled with fresh ideas and galvanised by initiatives underway.

One such project is the use of a local utility’s distribution network incorporating fibre optic cabling to provide customers with connectivity.

It’s not a new concept, but it is inspiring to hear about how far along this utility is in reinventing their business model. I’m not giving too much away on this as it’s still early days for the project, which will be unpacked in Issue 5 of our print magazine, coming out in November.

Another interesting development that sets this year apart from previous years is the number of people who are no longer talking about energy in isolation.

Even the Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in Kenya, Dr Joseph Njoroge, spoke passionately about the country’s Big Four agenda, that being universal healthcare, affordable housing, enhancing manufacturing, and food security.

Although he did bring it back to energy stating that reliable energy is a critical enabler to achieve these goals, which all “require energy to prosper in a sustainable way”.

He also stressed that government is committed to increasing access to modern energy and “will use renewable energy solutions as much as possible”. Surprisingly, when commenting on the generation mix, Njoroge included nuclear energy—a technology that has huge initial cost outlays. "It [nuclear power] is a highly regulated industry," but Kenya is on the road to an all-inclusive energy mix, he explained.

What are your thoughts around what an all-inclusive energy mix should include for the East African region?

Share your thoughts with me and I will keep you posted on the conversations continuing today at this annual event, which has attracted attendees from over 10 countries, giving a clear indication that East Africa has much to offer.

Until next week.

Nicolette