STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Suddenly, There Is Energy Everywhere, Even in Africa
By Staff News & Analysis - February 26, 2013

Energy revolution promises to transform East Africa … An energy revolution is taking place in East Africa as the price of solar technology tumbles and huge resources of geothermal steam beneath the Great Rift Valley start to be exploited, moves which have the potential to lift millions out of poverty and cut greenhouse gas emissions. – BBC

Dominant Social Theme: So much unexpected good fortune. Who would have thought there was all this energy?

Free-Market Analysis: Suddenly, the US has enough available energy to be self-sufficient for a thousand years. And now we are told – by the BBC no less – that one of the world's more impoverished nations – Kenya – may be able to tap the equivalent of millions of barrels of oil on an ongoing basis via geothermal steam (see article excerpt above).

We're not sure why the powers-that-be are suddenly "discovering" energy, nor why the mainstream media is trumpeting this energy sufficiency. Certainly we are not sure when it comes to the US and the West generally.

Energy scarcity has been a dominant social theme – a meme of control for over 100 years now, ever since John D. Rockefeller dubbed oil a "fossil fuel" to promote the idea that oil would run out some day, presumably when the stash of decayed dinosaur bones was exhausted.

We're a bit surer why energy is suddenly being discovered in Africa, however – and especially in Kenya. First, more from the article:

The Great Rift Valley is a tear in the Earth's crust stretching 3,000 miles (4,830 km) through Africa. In places the ground smokes and sulphurous fumes fill the air.

Drill down a couple of miles and, if your prospecting is good, you hit pools of water under great pressure and heated to 230C. Stick in a pipe and steam roars out ready for ducting into power stations to turn turbines and make electricity.

At Olkaria, near Lake Naivasha, in Kenya, they have been generating some electricity for 20 years, but now there is step change. With investment of around £1bn, in a few years they will be able to produce more electricity than the country's entire current annual consumption 1,600 megawatts.

'The bright continent' A little further north is Menengai Crater, where further test wells are being drilled and the potential could be even greater. Overall it is believed the geothermal potential in Kenya is 10,000 megawatts.

Engineer Daniel Odongo, the man leading the hunt for the wells of superheated water, guides me up one of the rigs and talks with great pride about how he thinks his work could change Kenya:

"We need something that can put power online as fast as possible and geothermal is doing that for us… everyone now in Kenya is trying to find out what's going on in Olkaria, what's going on in the power sector, and we are having people coming from all over the world to see what we are doing here." …

And the work does not stop at Kenya's borders – geothermal prospecting is happening in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania. Some of the money is coming from the African Development Bank and their regional director, Gabriel Negatu, says it could be transformative:

"Energy is not an end in itself; it is an enabler… every part of your life is affected by energy. [We'll see] a robust economy with factories, universities, a full industrial economy, and all of it will be powered by geothermal energy. What was once known as the Dark Continent will henceforth be known as the bright continent."

The key here is "bright continent." As we've explained before, Africa is likely being targeted as the next great continent that the Western-style capitalism is going to save and make prosperous. First Japan, then China and now Africa.

Of course, this is a deeply cynical exercise but that won't stop it from occurring, presumably – at least while other things are occurring as well, like the construction of a more globalized currency. This is the End Game for a process that actually began in 1971, when President Richard Nixon abruptly pulled the US off the gold standard.

Henry Kissinger then traveled to Saudi Arabia to "volunteer" the Saud family in an oil-for-dollars scheme. The Saudis would only take dollars for oil. Henceforth, everyone in the world would have to hold dollars – and the US presumably could print as many of them as it wanted.

Untroubled by monetary ratios, US officials began printing great gobs of money. In due course, Japan was enlisted to buy US dollars. Japanese officials ended up buying US$1 trillion, more or less. The deal was that Japan bought dollars and then exported its cars and other goods back to the US. US citizens were able to maintain their profligate lifestyle and Congress could continue to spend so long as Japan bought the debt.

But that arrangement ended in the late 1980s and China was enlisted in Japan's stead. China bought US debt and sold US consumers all sorts of gewgaws and trinkets.

But now it's game over in China, too. Chinese officials have purchased a surfeit of US debt.

Enter Africa.

As we've mentioned before, Africa could be the next Japan/China. From an elite standpoint, the situation is probably convenient. The US government can print dollars in bunches. A more industrialized and centralized Africa may be the end result.

After Thoughts

Additional power plays into this situation quite well. If we're correct about the opening up of Africa, then it might be the next bold, new investment frontier. The sudden emergence of African energy sources merely adds to the narrative being constructed and may indeed help enable it.

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