Back in 1998, Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) became the first public utility to confirm attendance at the inaugural Africa Energy Forum (AEF). A quarter of a century later, the leading electricity generator in East Africa and a leading global geothermal developer will profit from its unwavering loyalty, as Kenya’s capital, Nairobi opens its doors to the event and a delegation of global innovators, decision-makers, financiers, ministers, and future game-changers.
Achieving ‘firsts’ is nothing new to KenGen, having been the very first public utility on the continent to offer shares on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), to ignite investments into the energy sector in the country as a result, to export skills to the continent and to catalyse new forms of electrification such as with geothermal. It is through these efforts that Kenya’s energy mix now comprises the highest proportion of renewables in Africa, amounting to close to 92 percent.
KenGen has also been no stranger to sharing its expertise and success stories through the lens of conferences. The organisation hosts an annual Good-to-Great Global Innovation seminar to give a voice to innovators from across their teams, to charge development, and to entice new ideas for the next phase of evolution. KenGen also hosted its inaugural annual Sustainable Energy Conference last year and plans are underway to hold the second edition later in the year.
The Company’s constant strive for improvement is especially poignant given that it was first incorporated back in 1954 with the mandate to generate electricity through the development, management, and operation of power plants. Regular restructurings, strategic pivots, and investment boosts have ensured that KenGen has moved with the times throughout its tenure, making it a natural fit for AEF – an event that has similarly sought to stay abreast of current challenges while also keeping ahead of the curve regarding future power requirements.
KenGen Chairman, Julius Migos Ogamba, says: “Since its inception in 1954, KenGen has made considerable inroads in Kenya’s energy sector. With an installed electricity generation market share of 65 percent and an installed capacity of 1,904MW, KenGen is the largest energy producer in East Africa. In Africa, KenGen is currently working with electricity agencies in Ethiopia and Djibouti providing geothermal drilling services.”
For his part, Ag. Managing Director and CEO, Abraham Serem, affirmed the NSE-listed firm’s strategic direction going forward, saying: “The strategy remains to deliver competitively priced clean energy by creating value for shareholders and while expanding energy sources and revenue streams. The company’s installed generation capacity mix includes hydro 43%, geothermal 42%, thermal 14%, and wind 1%.”
KenGen’s full scope spans six operational areas, built of a geothermal area along the Great Rift Valley, with geothermal power plants and wellheads running as baseload energy sources in two of the sites – Olkaria and Eburru. The Western region has an installed capacity of 250MW encompassing four hydro stations, a thermal power plant, and gas turbine units. Meanwhile, the Eastern region is made up of five power plants along the Tana River cascade; compounded by four more in the Upper Tana region, as well as the Ngong wind plants in the outskirts of Nairobi. Today, hydro still remains KenGen’s leading source of energy, consisting of an installed capacity of 826MW.
This volume of generation across a diverse mix of sources epitomises why the company has become such a pioneer on the continent over the years, and why it has so much knowledge to share at events such as AEF. While it has been a concerted effort of the event to make Kenya the first mainland African host of AEF, it has also been an ambition of the country to leverage KenGen’s expertise and to open its doors to the world via such a global forum.
“One of the key economic drivers in Kenya is the tourism sector and conference tourism has grown to become a major contributor to the same. The government has therefore placed great importance to ensuring that Kenya is not only a global holiday destination but equally a global business and conference destination,” says Davis Chirchir, Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Petroleum, Republic of Kenya. “Taking place under the important theme of ‘Africa for Africa’, we look forward to welcoming AEF’s many partners and developers from across the world, as well as our colleagues from across Africa’s ministries and public sectors – all of whom are welcome, and we are grateful for their efforts to reduce the energy deficit, both regionally and across the broader continent.”
Merging a shared vision for a prosperous future in Africa, driven by energy innovations, Kenya will reaffirm at AEF its mission to invest significantly in future industries. This especially targets climate-resilient technologies for mining, carbon reduction, and the development of green industries, including green steel and hydrogen.
Mr. Chirchir continues: “We have already formed an inter-governmental Task Force to ensure that the forum’s delegates have an exceptional experience during their time with us in Kenya. This Task Force, which includes the Ministry of Tourism, is also supporting those planning to explore our great nation beyond the borders of Nairobi City, to enjoy the safaris in numerous parts of the country as well as several areas of outstanding national beauty along the coastline.
“We extend the warm hand of friendship to all those joining us and look forward to an exceptional week of productive meetings.”