Kenya currently has an installed capacity of 1,576 mega watts of power according to reports by Kenya Power. The effective power generation as of March 2011 was 1,306MW with the System peak demand of 1,178MW.This power needs to be delivered to the consumers. The process of via which power produced from power stations is transported to the consumers is referred to as transmission.

Due to the large amount of power involved, and the properties of Electricity, transmission normally takes place at high voltage (132-kilovolt or above) to reduce losses that occur over long distances.

Electricity is usually transmitted to a substation near a populated area. At the substation, the high voltage Electricity is converted to lower voltages suitable for consumer use, and then transmitted to end users through relatively low-voltage Electricity distribution lines that are owned and operated by the national Electricity utility.

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) was incorporated in 2008 to develop new high voltage electricity transmission infrastructure to forming a backbone of the National Transmission Grid.

The company has laid out a transmission programme to run up to 2031 at an estimated cost of Sh200 billion. The first phase of 30 projects is set to be completed between the 2015 and 2017 at a cost of Sh109 billion.

Phase 1 to be implemented by 2017 will involve expanding the transmission network by more than 4,000KM on single and double lines of voltage. The company will lay out a total of 1,471km of 132KV lines, 645km of 400KV lines and 686km of 500KV HVDC lines in the next 3-4 years. 1500 kilometers of  132kV lines;700 kilometers of 220kV lines;1,000 km 400kV lines; and 700 kilometers of  500kV lines.

The company has the following power line projects to implement some of which are ongoing already:-Kilimambogo – Thika – Githambo Line; Mumias – Rangala Line; Kindaruma – Mwingi – Garissa Line; Eldoret – Kitale Line;Kisii – Awendo Line; Thika – Kiganjo (Gatundu) Line; Nanyuki – Nyahururu Line; Lessos – Kabarnet Line; Olkaria – Narok Line;Bomet – Sotik Line;Mwingi – Kitui – Sultan Hamud – Wote Line; Ishiara – Kieni Line; Meru – Isiolo – Nanyuki Line; Olkaria – Suswa Line (implemented through KenGen);Sangoro – Sondu Line  (implemented through KenGen);Kindaruma -Athi River Line; Meru -Maua Line; Nyahururu -Maralal Line; Awendo -Migori -Isabenia Line; Sondu -Homa Bay -Ndhiwa -Awendo Line; Turkwel -Ortum Line; Sultan Hamud – Loitoktok Line; Konza -Machakos Line; Konza -Kajiado -Namanga Line; Garsen -Hola -Garissa Line; Garissa -Wajir Line; Galu -Lunga Lunga Line.
The major lines are: Suswa – Isinya Line (part of Nairobi 220kV Metropolitan Ring );Suswa-Ngong Line (part of Nairobi 220kV Metropolitan Ring);Rabai – Malindi – Garsen – Lamu Line; Mombasa – Nairobi Line; Olkaria – Lessos – Kisumu Line;Loiyangalani – Suswa Line.

Courtersy of Ketraco

Other than internal transmission networks, the country has also entered in regional power pools which seek to integrate power within the African region:-

Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) Power Interconnection
The project which is being implemented under the umbrella of the Nile Basin Initiative. The interconnection projects are a pool of several investment projects that are multinational in nature and consists of construction of 440, 220 and 110 KV transmission lines and Substations to interconnect the electric grids of the Nile Equatorial Lakes (NBI) countries of Burundi, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Rwanda and Uganda.

The new Kenya-Uganda link is expected to increase the power transfer capacity between the two countries to 350 MW. The projects are financed separately under different financing mechanisms under three project portfolios.
Scope of work
1. Kenya (Lessos)-Uganda (Bujagali) – Interconnection 220 KV 256km financed by AfDB/AfDB
2. Uganda (Mbarara)-Mirama- Rwanda (Shango) – Interconnection 220 KV 172 km financed by AfDB/JICA
3. Rwanda (Ruzizi III) – DRC (Goma) 220 KV financed by AfDB
4. Rwanda (Ruzizi III) – Burundi (Bujumbura) – 220 KV 142 km–financed by AfDB/KFW
5. Rwanda (Birembo –Shango-Gisenyi-Kibuye)-DRC (Goma) – Interconnection 220 KV 200km financed by AfDB/KFW/Government of Netherlands
6. The Rusumo Transmission project – Strengthening the existing regional interconnected system (Burundi +Rwanda) and create new regional interconnection with Tanzania. WB is financing feasibility at a cost of Euro 357,144.
7. Kenya – Tanzania Power Interconnection – 400 KV transmission line starting from Isinya substation to Singida in Tanzania through Arusha. Financing of the study: USD 3.4 million by Norway.
8. Iringa – Mbeya Transmission line in Tanzania Reinforcement of the Tanzania grid and extend 400 KV Tanzania Backbone Iringa – Shinyanga (Northern West) and Kenya – Tanzania Interconnection towards Zambia.
9. Uganda – DR Congo (Beni – Bunia) Power Transmission Line. Objective is to build a high voltage transmission line from Nkenda Western Region of Uganda up to Bunia via Beni in the North Eastern region of the D R Congo studies to be financed by Norwegian Government.

Kenya-Ethiopia Power interconnection
This connection will see to Kenya importing 2,000 megawatts from Ethiopia. However the country will for starters import 400 megawatts. The 1100 km long 500 kV DC transmission project is already at implementation stage with tenders to set up sub-station already on float. In September last year, the board of AfDB approved a $348 million loan to fund the project, adding to another $684 million loan that had been approved by the World Bank’s board of directors towards the same course.

Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnection
This interconnection will start from the proposed Isinya substation south of Nairobi and pass through Arusha before terminating at Singinda in Tanzania. It is expected to be operated at 400 kV and have a power transfer capacity of at least 1000 MW.

According to a 5 year strategic report by Kenya Power, the peak demand of power is projected to rise to 2,243MW by 2015/16, an annual average growth of 13%, consistent with Vision 2030 economic targets. To meet projected demand, an additional 1,749MW of firm generation capacity will be installed between 2011/12 and 2015/16.

The power distributor intends to Establish a total of 26 substations (Rironi,Lower Kabete,Githuguri,Villa Franca,Uplands,Ndenderu,Lukenya,Maseno,Kericho,Kabaraki,Kapsowar,Keroka,Kianjai,Ahero,Magumu,Chapseon,Elgon View,Kibos,Majengo,Gatundu,Ndarugu,Kangema,Tala,Waguru,Mishimoroni,and Jomvu) – in tendering.

Refferences:Kenya Power,Ketraco,Nile Information System.

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Kenya Engineer is the definitive publication of Engineers in East Africa & beyond and the official journal of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. Kenya Engineer has been in publication since 1972.

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