Kenya seeks to sort out power problems to help investment growth

The Great Rift Valley in Kenya could be the key to attracting foreign investors to the African country where lack of power generation is holding back its growth.

According to a recent World Bank report the price of electricity is a leading factor in making Africa uncompetitive relative to other merging economies like India and China.

Kenya boast a number of tourist attractions and many are keen to harness the potential buying power associated with them and attract much needed property investors to continue its robust growth.

As East Africa's largest economy what Kenya does could be a blueprint for other African nations.

A study shows there is the potential for 7,000 megawatts of geothermal energy from Kenya's geologically active Great Rift Valley forms. The government has set itself a target to double total energy production by 2018.

Geothermal power is seen as one of the most reliable and comparatively cheap renewable energy sources. In the valley the energy is produced by trapping steam released by hot rocks with water reservoirs deep in the earth and using it to power turbines.

'The problem in the past has been the expense of geothermal energy generation,' said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme. 'The huge benefits, of course, are that you are getting indigenous electricity which doesn't rely on expensive oil imports and you don't get any CO2 emissions,' he added.

Many African countries, including economic powerhouse South Africa, face serious supply challenges which have caused debilitating power outages from Senegal's Dakar on the Atlantic Coast to Tanzania's Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean.

The International Energy Agency says Africa needs to spend an estimated $560 billion by 2030 to generate an additional 260,000 MW of power.