Phase One of regional power pool project set for completion by mid-2019

Monday August 06 2018

Gibe III dam in the Omo Valley aims to double Ethiopia’s electricity output. FILE PHOTO | AFP

By Allan Olingo

The Kenya and Ethiopia electricity transmission interconnector is expected to be completed next year, concluding the first phase of the region's power pool project.

A month ago, the World Bank gave Tanzania more than $450 million for a similar project that will connect the country to Zambia and South Africa, under the regional power pool project.

Kenya’s Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge said that the 1,045km line is three-quarters complete on the Kenyan side and 90 per cent complete on the Ethiopian side.

“We estimate that the entire project will be complete mid next year and will help improve the electricity trade in the East African region,” said Mr Njoroge.

The 500kv Ethiopia-Kenya interconnector, funded by the African Development Bank is a high voltage direct current line, with more than 600km of it being on the Kenyan side and 430km on the Ethiopian side.

“We expected that the line will be able to evacuate 400MW of power from Ethiopia to Kenya but we have reopened negotiations on the capacity in line with the increasing electricity demand in Kenya,” said Mr Njoroge.


Genesis of EA power pool

The East African power pool was developed in 2005. The project seeks to connect the national electricity grids of more than 10 regional countries, with the aim of ensuring energy flows from countries with a surplus to those facing a deficit.

In June, Tanzania received $465 million for its power interconnector project with Zambia as part of the power pool projects.

The World Bank said that the credit will finance construction of critical high voltage transmission infrastructure that will support the electrification of the southern and northwestern regions of Tanzania.

The $455 million loan will go into funding the Tanzania–Zambia Transmission Interconnector Project, which is expected to increase power transmission capacity to the country’s southern regions, and a further $10 million grant will go towards the Eastern Africa Power Pool for regional power trade.

These projects are being implemented under the regional Transmission Corridor Development project that will see Tanzania link the East Africa Power pool to the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

“The interconnection with the Southern Africa Power Pool will enable Tanzania to be part of a large competitive power market and meet energy security needs in a cost-effective manner,” the World Bank said.

“The ability to engage in short-term trade, either bilateral or through existing market mechanisms in SAPP, will enable Tanzania to diversify its energy mix, eliminate the need for expensive emergency power during supply shocks, and improve conditions for the development of scale-efficient generation infrastructure selling to regional power markets.”

Two phases

The project has been divided into two phases, with the first entailing a 620km-400kV double circuit transmission line extending the Tanzanian transmission backbone from Iringa to the border with Zambia.

The second phase, in Zambia will include a second circuit along the 330kV central back bone between Pensulo and Kasama and a double circuit line from Kasama to Nakonde, near the Tanzania border and further to the border to interconnect with Tanzania.

In 2012, regional countries began the Eastern Africa Integration Programme whose main aim was to connect the power grids of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda in three phases. The first phase of the programme, connecting Ethiopia and Kenya, is under implementation. The (Tanzania-Zambia) TAZA Project is part of the second phase, with the other part — the Kenya-Tanzania transmission line under construction, enabling the connection of the EAPP power system to the SAPP.

— By Allan Olingo