Joint deals for electricity access, more supply

Saturday June 21 2014

By Berna Namata

Access to energy in East Africa is dependent on demand and supply as well as the institutions running the industry.

Access is also income-sensitive — as the income of consumers increases, so does demand and access.

It is expected that, as the levels of economic development in the sub-region increase—with the discovery of oil and gas spurring economic activities—this will grow demand and increase consumption.

Transmission and distribution losses are quite high in the region, curtailing effective supply. For example, Tanzania’s transmission and distribution losses are in excess of 20 per cent of generated electricity.

In the DRC, losses are estimated at between 20 and 30 per cent, with significant illegal connections. In Uganda, distribution losses alone account for 38 per cent of generated electricity.

Despite general low production, joint investment ventures and power sharing are set to boost supply in Burundi and Rwanda, while Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan are anticipating integration into the Ethiopian grid.

Egypt, Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan are energy import destinations, to be fed largely from the enhanced export capacity of Ethiopia, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.

Among the joint projects are: DRC, Burundi and Rwanda interconnection from a shared hydropower station Ruzizi 11; inter- state connections between Uganda and Rwanda to be commissioned in 2014; Tanzania and Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania (2015); Ethiopia and Djibouti (commissioned in 2011) and Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya (2013), Kenya –Uganda interconnection (2014); the Ethiopia–Sudan–Egypt connection (feasibility study completed), Rwanda and Burundi (2014), and Uganda and Rwanda (2014).

Intra-country investments in transmission and distribution networks are expected to drive system power losses down.

Current and planned transmission networks are indicated for Tanzania, Uganda and Eritrea. The Tanzania grid expands to Kenya and Zambia, the Uganda grid to Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and DRC and the Eritrean grid to the Sudan.

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