Uganda hosts second African rift geothermal conference, Comoros make first appearance


KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – A number of nations along the Great African Rift Valley and from countries with geothermal potential from around the world assembled in Entebbe last week to attend the second such conference, discussing the exploitation of geothermal energy sources for sustainable development.

In view of the recent volatility in the global oil market, and in spite of the sharp drop in crude oil prices over the past three months, long-term strategy must be the use of “renewable sources of energy” and along the Great Rift Valley there are enough areas that can be explored. Kenya already operates a major geothermal power station near Mt. Longonot / Hell’s Gate National Park at the bottom of the Rift Valley, a project which has happily co-existed with conservation for many decades now.

Most notable was a presentation from the Icelandic delegation, a country leading globally in exploiting geothermal energy, over their scholarship scheme for the sector, which includes short regional courses, courses in Iceland as well as masters and doctorate studies.

New in the group was also the Union of the Comoros, whose delegation was led by the Comoros Vice President Idi Nadhoim. It was the first time that the Comoros attended a meeting of this kind and the vice president delivered a key note address to the assembly. The vice president, who also holds the cabinet portfolios of Transport, Post & Telecommunications and Tourism, spoke at length to this correspondent about the islands’ intention to return to the world’s tourism scene, now that a democratically elected government runs the country after a period of instability.

Dubai World, among other high profile investors, has a project on its website about creating a world class beach resort on the main of the three major islands, similar to the one built on Zanzibar, and other hotel projects are reportedly under planning as well. Dubai World has already appointed industry leader Kempinski Hotels as their choice operator and management company, which will add to the group’s growing presence in Eastern Africa.

Kenya Airways presently connects Moroni with Nairobi twice a week, Air Tanzania has the Comoros on their schedule and Yemeni Airlines too offers regular flights. The Vice President did indicate sustained investor interest in the aviation field too but was understandably a little guarded over the identity of those investors, until the projects were coming to maturity.

From a slide show seen, the islands offer a great and well-preserved historical and cultural heritage and world class beaches, besides nature reserves and most important is the home of the oldest type of fish presently known to reside in the world oceans. Extinct volcanoes add to the attraction of the islands as they create interesting geographical features and make the inner island micro-climate very pleasant.