Kenya to link up with southern African power grid

Power lines Kenya East AfricaKenya has signed a US$50mn electricity deal with the World Bank that will enable the country to connect to the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) by early 2015

Government officials have said that funds will be sought for the construction of the transmission line that will link Kenya to Tanzania’s national grid, which is part of SAPP.

"Construction of the 100km 400kV transmission double circuit line is expected to cost US$54mn," said Patrick Nyoike, permanent secretary at the Kenyan Ministry of Energy.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has also given the country a US$50mn loan to help Kenya Power Company increase its electricity distribution network across the country.

The funding will assist the connection of one million new households to the national grid by 2014 the implementation of 42 power projects, which include the construction of power stations and distribution lines in Nairobi.

Over the last year, the company has invested US$120mn to build additional power lines and substations as demand for power has soared. 

Kenya Power has consistently recorded an increasing demand for power in the country with the current actual demand peaking at 1,236MW.

Kenya Power currently has approximately 1.9mn electricity customers with annual connections of 200,000 new customers. Less that 30 per cent of Kenyan households, however, are connected to the national grid and demand for connection has continued to rise.

“Currently, demand is outstripping supply and the move to connect to the SAPP will allow us to bridge the power deficit," said Nyoike.

In July, Kenya commissioned a $1.3bn project to develop a 280MW power plant in Olkaria in the Rift Valley to increase power production and cushion the country from erratic hydropower generation.

Drought conditions in the East African region have affected hydropower generation from the Seven Folks Project dams, which generates more than 60 per cent of the national grid's supply.

The country has in the last few years been moving towards renewable sources of power in the form of geothermal, solar and wind generated power. Plans are also underway for the development of a coal plant in Kitui in the east of the country.

Meanwhile, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has spearheaded power connections in rural Kenya to 22 per cent of households and public facilities.

The REA has said it requires US$331.9mn to connect public places across the country. The authority has targeted 7,000 public facilities, which would bring the number of connection to such facilities to 21,000 by 2013.

Public facilities targeted include trading centres, schools, health centres, community water works and administrative facilities.

Mwangi Mumero

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