Kenya will be connected to the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) by January 2015, a government official said last week, as the country signed a $50 million electricity deal with the World Bank.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Patrick Nyoike said the government is raising funds to begin the construction of the transmission line that will link Kenya to Tanzania’s national grid, which is part of the SAPP.
“The construction of a 100-kilometre 400KV transmission double circuit line is expected to cost $54 million,” said Mr Nyoike.
The PS was speaking during the Konza Technology City Investors conference on August 7, in Nairobi, at which more than 100 international and foreign investors discussed opportunities in the 5,000 acre proposed city.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has already given a $50 million loan to help Kenya Power increase in its electricity distribution network across the country.
Kenya Power CEO Joseph Njoroge said the funds will enable them reach one million new households by 2014, and implement 42 power projects including construction of substations and distribution lines in Nairobi.
“The implementation of projects to be funded under this financing arrangement will be completed by 2014. The project will help improve quality of power supply and stabilise voltage to cope with additional demand,” said Mr Njoroge.
He said the loan is part of $200 million that the World Bank’s private lending arm, IFC, will release in four tranches, to help reduce power outages in Nairobi and its environs.
Demand for electricity in the country has grown significantly in the past year leading to Kenya Power increasing its new distribution lines and power step up substations.
Kenya Power said it has invested more than $120 million of internally generated funds since June last year, to build additional power lines and substations to meet growing demand for power.
The company said it is now recording consistent increase in electricity use with peak demand reaching 1,215 megawatts (MW), compared with 1,194 MW at the end of June 2011.
Mr Nyoike said by connecting to the pool, Kenya will tap into the vast energy resources of its southern neighbours.
SAPP works under the 15 member states of the Southern African Development Community.
“However the transmission line is one of the power projects of the East African Community, which aims at promoting regional trade in electricity,” the PS said.
“Currently, our demand for electricity is outstripping supply, so the move will allow us to bridge power deficits,” he said.
Kenya’s electricity power generation, largely dominated by water-powered turbines, is seeking to gradually shift to renewable energy through geothermal and wind powered plants to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The country’s Seven Forks dam, drawing its waters from forests, has experienced dwindling water supply due to the cutting down of trees and poor rainfall, sparked by unpredictable weather patterns.
Last month, Kenya commissioned $1.3 billion project for the development of 280 MW of geothermal power in Olkaria, Naivasha about 100km northwest of Nairobi. The project is funded by foreign companies.
READ: Work on $1.3bn Olkaria IV geothermal plant starts
Mr Nyoike said under the Eastern Africa Power Connector Project, Kenya will be connected to Ethiopia’s power grid by December 2017.
By Ronald Njoroge and Chrispinus Omar (Xinhua)