25 May 2017 News Energy

UN Environment Partners with Iceland to Boost Geothermal Development in Africa

May 25, 2017 – The Africa Rift Geothermal Development Facility project today receives a major boost from the Government of Iceland to support its activities for the next two years.

The Partnership Agreement, officially signed by Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment and Ms Maria Erla Marlesdottir, Director General for International Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, firmed up a USD 1M financial support from Iceland. The agreement is the continuation of a long term partnership to support sustainable geothermal development in Africa.

The financial support from Iceland will go towards completion of the already initiated surface exploration studies in the project’s member countries and continue to provide mature institutional support to establish the Africa Geothermal Center of Excellence, including the Interim Project Coordination Unit of the center of Excellence.

The Africa Geothermal Centre of Excellence is expected to build capacity of young African geothermal scientists, engineers, drillers, technicians and financiers to ensure secured and sustainable geothermal development in Africa.

In 2016, African countries agreed to set up the Africa Geothermal Centre of Excellence and to be hosted by the Government of Kenya. A Steering Committee was formed to be chaired by the African Union Commission to lead and oversee establishment of the Centre in Kenya.

“We have an excellent partnership with UN Environment. I was very impressed by the implementation of phase one of the Africa Geothermal Development Facility project (ARGeo),” said Maria Erla Marlesdottir.

“Kenya is leading in geothermal in Africa. Through this partnership, geothermal development can become a reality in other countries in the region,” she added.

According to the Atlas of Africa Energy Resources, jointly published this month by the UN Environment and African Development Bank, energy consumption in Africa is the lowest in the world, and per capita consumption has barely changed since 2000. Current energy production in Africa is insufficient to meet demand. About a third of the total African population still lacks access to electricity and 53 per cent of the population depends on biomass for cooking, space heating and drying. Ironically, Africa holds massive reserves of energy sources which remain underutilized. 

“Energy is at the core of Africa’s transformation. It is needed for industry, education, health and other sectors. Through this partnership, Iceland will provide the best expertise possible to African nations to develop their geothermal resources  to meet their energy needs,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment.

Africa has an abundance of alternative sources of renewable energy resources including hydropower, wind, geothermal, solar and bio-fuels, which, if tapped into, can catalyze the Continent’s economic, social and environmental development.

Africa is endowed with more than 20 Giga Watts of geothermal resources.  As renewable and clean energy, geothermal is utilized for power generation and direct use application to meet the continent’s increasing energy needs. Kenya has generated over 600 Megawatts of electricity from geothermal sources.

UN Environment, through the Africa Rift Geothermal Development Facility Project, continues to provide technical support to African countries to build their capacity in geothermal exploration and development.


For more information, please contact:

Mohamed Atani, Regional Information Officer, UN Environment Africa Office at Tel. (+254) 727531253,

[email protected] 

Meseret Zemedukun, Program Manager ARGeo Project, UN Environment Africa Office at Tel. (+ 254) 20 7625634, [email protected]