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How Kenya is Leading the Way in Developing its Geothermal Energy Resources 

Africa is breaking apart – literally. From the Gulf of Aden in the north, all the way to Mozambique in the south, the African continental plate is splitting along the East African Rift Valley. The good news is that the forces deep beneath the Earth’s surface that are responsible for this tectonic divorce provide Africa with a potentially vast supply of renewable energy. At numerous points throughout the Rift Valley region, flows of molten magma in the rift create underground reservoirs of superheated steam and water. Where geological conditions allow, these geothermal resources can be piped to the surface and used to generate electricity, or harnessed directly for heating, or to drive cooling systems. Of all the countries in the region, Kenya has made by far the most progress in exploiting its geothermal potential. “Kenya has excellent geothermal resources”, says Jack Kiruja, an associate programme officer at the International Renewable Energy Agency, who was previously an engineer at the Geothermal Development Company in Kenya. It has, however, taken decades to develop the sector in the country. “It’s been a really long journey that has led to the success that we see today,” says Kiruja.