The proposed New Zealand – Africa Geothermal Facility has moved ahead with the signing of a partnership agreement between the African Union Commission (AUC) and The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

As per the partners, the agreement provides a framework and basis for the establishment and implementation of the facility which is expected to give expanded access to clean energy in Eastern African countries that is both affordable and reliable.

Through the geothermal facility, focus countries of the Africa Union Regional Geothermal Programme will be provided responsive, flexible and timely geothermal technical assistance and capacity development support.

The facility which will be hosted by the Department of Infrastructure & Energy of AUC will operate for a 5-year initial implementation timeframe of 2017-2020.

Some of the countries of the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility (GRMF) like Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Comoros, Rwanda, Uganda and others will benefit from the facility. There is also a possibility to provide the same to all the African Union countries in future according to AUC and MFAT.

African Union Commission Infrastructure and Energy Commissioner H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid said: “The Facility will strengthen the geothermal development efforts of AUC through the GRMF.

“For instance, twenty seven (27) projects have qualified for grant award for a total amount of US$ 79M since the launching of the GRMF in 2012, from which four (4) projects have been successfully completed’’.

The MFAT will fund up to NZD10.2m ($7.5m) for the geothermal facility that will mobilise and bring the geothermal expertise of New Zealand to African countries.

New Zealand Ambassador to the African Union Bruce Shepherd said: ‘‘New Zealand has extensive and world leading expertise in this field which will be very valuable to ensuring that Africa’s geothermal energy potential is brought to fruition.”