Kenya will start exporting power to Uganda following the recent increase in production from geothermal sources.
This is a deal under the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Power pool, in which the three heads of state of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda agreed that the country can start off with 30MW.
The power will be transmitted through a new high voltage line linking the two nations. The grand 400KV regional electricity power exchange line will run from Olkaria in Kenya through Uganda to Birembo in Rwanda. Uganda and Kenya are already connected by older lines. The latest project will add to the new sections.
Kenya is currently self-sufficient in power generation after more than 280 MW was added to the grid last year from various geothermal projects in the Rift Valley.
Geothermal sources generated 1,476.66MW while hydro generated 1,018.08MW and thermal sources generated 485.26MW.
Kenya has been tapping the geothermal resources in the Rift Valley as part of its broader ambition to add 5,000 Megawatts to its electricity output by 2017. That will add to the country’s existing capacity of about 2,152 MW. It has close to 3,000 MW of proven geothermal energy in the Rift Valley.
Under the East African Power Pool project, countries are expected to export surplus electricity, whenever available, to neighbouring states in need, given the fact that power production in the region is normally unstable due to its dependence on hydroelectric power generation, whose performance has in the recent past been affected by climate change.
At the recent Northern Corridor Heads of State Summit, Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni directed the ministers to closely monitor the implementation of this project and ensure that no further delays are experienced.
“Partner states to ensure close monitoring of their respective 220 kV project components for power trade to commence in April 2016,” directed the presidents.
According to Joseph Nyagah, Kenya’s national co-ordinator for the Northern Corridor Integration Programme, power trade between the partner states has been delayed by the contractors in Rwanda and way leaves challenges in Uganda and Kenya.
The regional power pool will allow power transmission capacity of over 500MW in the three partner states and ensure reliable supply in the region.
East African Community member states recently agreed to pull out of a proposed regional power sharing pool in favour of the wider Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) under which the EAC Power Pool falls. EAPP is meant to link up nine countries by 2018.
The five EAC countries have since 2003 been interconnecting their power lines to improve supply, stabilise access and foster trading in electricity across national borders.
This means that the five countries will have their power lines connected to the larger power pool, whose headquarters will be in Addis Ababa. Four other countries — Egypt, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan — are members of the wider pool.
Under the EAPP, a high-voltage line between Ethiopia and Kenya will be ready in 2017, a Kenya-Uganda link will be complete by the end of 2016, and a Kenya-Tanzania connection will be working in 2018.
The Kenya-Ethiopia link will be a 500 kilovolt line, while the lines to Uganda and Tanzania will be 400kV. The line to Uganda will then connect to Rwanda and Burundi.
Last year, Kenya cut electricity imports from Uganda by more than half following the injection of additional geothermal power into the national grid.
Data from the Energy Regulatory Commission indicates that Kenya imported 27.97 million kilowatt-hours from neighbouring countries including Ethiopia in the first half of the year, down from 57.91 million kWh in the same period last year, a 51.7 per cent drop.
Uganda has been exporting electricity to Kenya under an agreement established during colonial times but renegotiated at Uganda’s insistence in 1997.