The African Clean Energy Race: Kenya vs. Ethiopia

Who is winning the race?

As I have written about before, Africa overall has very low emissions and an estimated 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa that don’t have reliable access to electricity.  It also has a number of the world’s fastest growing economies and population growth rate projections that will likely exceed anything we have seen before.  These are just some of the reasons it is important for African nations to take a Cleanleap.  Executing on bold government plans is of course tricky and its important than development doesn’t leave poor rural areas behind, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be enthusiastic about what we are seeing.  These are transformative projects and real progress is being made.

We said we’d have a race, so who would win?  Well, if the race was tomorrow it looks like Kenya but I’m not sure it’s going to stay that way.  The 2016 Olympics are a bit less than two years away and the story could be looking different by that time.   As you can see in this data from the World Bank, Kenya is richer than Ethiopia on a per capita basis, Ethiopia has about double the population and the percentage of the population with access to electricity in the same.  

Kenya has a big lead in Geothermal but if Corbetti Geothermal Power is successful it will be one of the largest geothermal projects in the world and quite a bit larger than Ormat Olkaria II.  On the wind front, Ethiopia currently has the lead with the Ashegoda windfarm, but Kenya may surpass them with projects like that at Lake Turkana.  In the area of solar, Kenya seems to gain the final advantage with the work being done by M-Kopa.  It would be nice to see something like that being rolled out in Ethiopia and the good news is that it certainly seems like it could.  

What do you think will happen in the race?

We're looking for analysts in Kenya and Ethiopia.  Read here to find out more!


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