The African Development Bank (AFDB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has loaned Kenya KES5.3bn ($50m) to construct Kenya-Tanzania power line. The two countries will put up a high-voltage power line connecting the two, part of efforts to meet growing demand for electricity and deepen integration of their economies.

Construction of the 93km transmission line will commence in January till December 2017. The two countries will build approximately 510km with KETRACO (Kenya Electricity Transmission Company) implementing 400 kilovolt (kV) power line and several substations to allow them trade in power.

In August 2015, Kenya and Tanzania governments invited bids to recruit consultants followed by a three months procurement process. The Kenyan government aims to add 5,000 km power lines to the existing 3,800 km in two years and connect more people whilst Tanzania plans to double its generation capacity to 3,000MW by 2016. 

Recently, KETRACO signed three contracts for the implementation of the Ethiopia-Kenya electricity transmission project. The contracts will pioneer the idea of regional power market and enhance the East African Power Pool (EAPP). The proposed bipolar 500 kV HVDC line will originate from Welayta Sodo in Ethiopia and terminate in Suswa, with its total length being slightly over 1,000km out of which 433km will be in Ethiopia and the remaining 612km in Kenya.

The 612km transmission line in Kenya has been divided into Lots 4, 5 and 6 whose tenders were respectively awarded to KEC International Ltd-India, Larsen and Toubro Limited Power Transmission and Distribution, and Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd, India. Lot 4, runs from Log Logo (in Kenya) to the Ethiopian border. Lot 5 runs from Kinamba to Log Logo with Lot 6 running from Suswa all the way to Kinamba.

 “We are excited to partner with these parties as their passion and dedication to building and operating quality and reliable electricity transmission network is already well known,” said outgoing KETRACO’s CEO Eng. Joel Kiilu, in a press release published on June 2015.

Development of the Ethiopia- Kenya electricity line that was approved in 2012 is worth KES1335m ($1262.50m) with loan support from French Development Bank, International Development Association (IDA), governments of Kenya and Ethiopia, and African Development Bank (AFDB). This project emerged in 2006 after Kenya and Ethiopia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the area of hydropower generation, cooperation in power generation, transmission and rural electrification. This signing was followed after persistent power supply unreliability’s and outages experienced in both countries. 

Kenya-Uganda interconnection line was the first to be built and commissioned in 1955 with a 132kV power line connecting at the Owen Falls Hydroelectric power station with load centers in Kenya traversing through Tororo, Musaga, Lessos, Lanet and Nairobi. Southern Africa already has a series of interconnections linking countries, including South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, which allows them to trade power.

According to the Ministry of Energy only a third of Kenya’s 44 million people are currently connected to the national grid. Kenya has invested heavily on geothermal power generation to reduce the cost of power. It aims to expand installed power capacity to about 6,700 megawatts (MW) by 2017, from about 2,500 MW now. It also plans to half bills from around $0.17-0.18 per kWh in three or four years. Earlier this year, President Kenyatta launched the latest Olkaria I Units 4&5 each with a capacity of 70MW. This has led to increased geothermal power contribution to the national grid to 51 per cent and plans are on going to add the capacity by another 460MW.

The East Africa region has been acknowledged to be the next place where private investors are looking to invest their money. With construction of a transmission line and a range of other renewable energy projects being realized across the region to ensure that investors do businesses in an environmentally friendly society.

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