Kenya to complete 400kV transmission line to Tanzania this year

6 Jul 2023
Kenya to complete 400kV transmission line to Tanzania this year

Kenya’s 93km, 400kV line to be commissioned by year end, will connect to 414km Tanzania line to facilitate electricity trade; EAPP master plan sees 10 interconnectors to facilitate power exchange between the East and Southern Africa power pools

Kenya is nearing the completion of its section of the Kenya – Tanzania transmission line. According to a Bloomberg news report, Davis Chirchir, Energy Cabinet Secretary stated that the 400kV line is finished, and Kenya should commission the line before the end of the year.

Chirchir, who made this known at the sidelines of the Africa Energy Forum in Nairobi on 20 June, added that the stringing has been completed while meter installation is ongoing along the line.

The Kenyan section is 93.1 km long, running from the Isinya substation, located about 70km outside Nairobi, to Namanga on the Tanzania border.

The transmission line will have a transfer capacity of up to 2,000MW in either direction, allowing both countries to trade electricity. The transmission line will also improve grid electricity connection in rural communities along the transmission corridor.

Blended funding

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Kenyan part of the project is estimated to cost $44m. The funds are being provided by a $36.3m loan from the AfDB, while the Kenyan government is putting up $8.4m as counterpart funding.

The Tanzania section of the line is about 414.4 km and is estimated to cost about $220m. The funding is being provided via a blend of financing – a $99m loan from the AfDB; an $83.8m concessional loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and a $37.6m commitment from the Tanzanian government.

Despite closing financing in 2015, there have been some delays in completing the project. Kenyan authorities note that the delays have been due to the slow progress of the wayleave compensation/resettlement process.

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO) – who is the main project implementer in Kenya – cited the lack of adequate financial resources to compensate and resettle Project Affected Persons (PAPs). In a recent project update meeting with the AfDB, the company reported that it needed about $460,000 to complete the compensation and resettlement of PAPs.

East Africa’s region-wide approach to affordable energy access

Many East African countries are currently expanding their clean energy capacities – with several large-scale hydro and wind projects under development. These countries believe that harmonizing their electricity markets is essential to improving affordable energy access across the entire region.

The East African Power Pool (EAPP) master plan has identified about ten interconnection projects that would facilitate energy trading within the pool. These projects when completed will also facilitate power exchange between the East and Southern Africa power pools, improving the electricity market and electricity supply reliability across both regions. 

Last year, Ethiopia began exporting electricity to Kenya via a new transmission line that can transmit 2,000MW. Ethiopia plans to generate significant revenue from electricity exports when it fully completes its 5.15GW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Ethiopia has signed electricity supply agreements with Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Somaliland, Tanzania, and South Sudan. Kenya’s 25-year electricity import deal with Ethiopia will see Kenya Power take up a maximum of 200MW from the GERD in the first three years, and 400MW in the subsequent years.

The International Energy Agency recommends regional power pools as a way to accelerate the deployment of grid-tied renewables, especially in countries with weak grid infrastructure. These interconnected grids can improve the flexibility needed to integrate more variable renewables ensuring supply reliability.

Energy & Utilities reported last month that African countries' energy sectors including Tanzania are likely to receive rising amounts of SWF investment. E&U also reported that Tanzania's Ministry of Energy signed an EPC contract to construct the first phase of a 150MW solar power project. 

Photo credit: KETRACO

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