Tanzania-Kenya joint power project kicks into high gear

Saturday February 9 2019

Power line pylon

Electricians connect high voltage power lines at Voi in Taita Taveta County, Kenya. The Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnection Project is geared towards enabling the two neighbouring countries to share electricity easily. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

BOB KARASHANI
By BOB KARASHANI
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The Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnection Project has been divided into several lots, with contractors on the Tanzanian side committing to set up a 510km 400kv transmission line and accompanying substations in order to meet the 2020 completion deadline.

The project is being implemented by the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) through a $258.82 million loan from the African Development Bank and the Japanese International Co-operation Agency.

It involves construction of a double-circuit, overhead transmission line from Singida to Isinya in Kenya through Babati, Arusha and Namanga.

According to Tanesco’s senior manager in charge of projects, Emmanuel Manirabona, lot number one of the project will see a line built between Singida and Babati by Indian firm Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd. Lot number two will involve construction of a 400kV transmission line between Babati and Arusha.

“The work will be undertaken by Bouygues Energies & Services of France,” said Mr Manirabona.

Kenya will also extend its transmission line to Ethiopia, while Tanzania will extend its line to Zambia. This will connect the East African region to the Southern Africa Power Pool, where connected countries will be able to buy and sell electricity from each other.

Reducing costs

The Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnection Project is geared towards enabling the two neighbouring countries to share electricity easily while reducing operational costs of energy production. At least five modern sub-stations will be built to ensure smooth power transmission between the two countries.

“Because part of this project is being undertaken in Kenya, Tanesco is working closely with Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco),” said Mr Manirabona.

He added that the project will help both countries replace high-cost thermal energy with cheaper hydropower, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Mr Manirabona, the government is also considering a 200kv Uganda-Tanzania transmission line to run from Masaka to Mwanza, and interconnections with power grids in Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi, and Malawi.

The Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnection Project is part of a grand plan to have 400kV transmission line interconnections with as many countries as possible so that when the Stiegler’s Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station becomes operational, the country can easily sell the surplus power to connected countries.

“The Kenya- Tanzania interconnection project plays an important role in promoting regional integration through power trade … the power interconnection project is a win-win solution for both Kenya and Tanzania,” said Mr Manirabona.

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