The Menengai Geothermal Project in Nakuru County is shifting gears to the next level of power plant construction after the African Development Bank (AfDB) financed one of the Independent Power Producers (IPP) to go into generation.
Speaking during a tour of the project at the weekend, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of AfDB said the bank has financed one of the IPPs to the tune of $ 40 million for the construction of a power plant that will generate 35 MW.
“I look forward to see the IPPs starting work here in Menengai, then change will come to the region,” Dr Adesina said.
According to Eng. Johnson Ole Nchoe, the Managing Director and CEO of the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) the first IPP, Quantum Power East Africa is set to start operations in by September 2018.
There are two more IPPs which are expected to attain financial closure with financiers. All the three IPPs for Menegai Project Phase I are expected to generate a cumulative of 105 MW.
Dr Adesina who was also accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries for Energy, Mr Charles Keter and his Treasury counterpart Mr Henry Rotich, noted that geothermal development is the pillar of Kenya’s nation development.
“Electricity is like blood in your body. Without it there is no life. No economy can operate in darkness. You cannot be competitive without electricity,” he said.
“Kenya is well endowed with geothermal. It can use geothermal to light the rest of the region. Geothermal will turn Kenya into a power exporting country,” he noted.
The president noted that going forward, electricity will be at the heart of the bank’s focus and investment.
The AfDB Group is one of the main financiers of the Menengai Geothermal Project. AfDB extended a loan of $120 million to the Government of Kenya that went into the purchase of three drilling rigs, drilling materials and capacity building including the purse of a geothermal drilling simulator, the only one of its kind in Africa.
Keter commended GDC for the project, which has so far attained 165 MW of steam. “Drilling is still on-going here in Menengai for many other phases. GDC will also soon be moving to the Baringo Silali Project,” Mr Keter noted.
Energy Principal Secretary, Eng. Joseph Njoroge lauded GDC for the implementation of other direct uses of geothermal energy. “I’m glad to let you know that GDC is using heat from geothermal steam to pasteurise milk, heat green houses and fish ponds. I understand that soon GDC will install a cereals drier that uses heated steam to dry different foods. That is critical for food security,” the PS said.
Dr Adesina was pleasantly surprised that the Menengai Geothermal Project is fully run by Kenyans. “In Menengai, I’ m very impressed… I looked around and I just saw Kenyans. Kenyans and Kenyans. Kenyans drilling, Kenyans making things work. That is the kind of Africa that I’d like to see. Africans developing Africa with pride.”
“We at the African Development Bank are delighted to work with you to step up the African Geothermal Partnership. Kenya can become a centre of knowledge and send expertise to help Africa to develop,” Dr Adesina said.