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Regional Power Plan to Cut Costs

Feb 01, 2010 -- The Nation/All Africa Global Media

The cost of electricity is expected to come down drastically in the next few years, after installation of several inter-border grid lines is complete.

The transmission lines being set up between Kenya and other Eastern Africa countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, will solve power shortage problems and use natural resources, which are cheaper than oil.

"Regional cooperation will also see exploitation of more natural resources like hydropower and geothermal to reduce reliance on international oil prices, which are unpredictable," said Mr Joseph Njoroge, KPLC managing director.

This is part of the regional power master plan for the East African Power Pool (EAPP) which covers Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, to enable cross-border electrification.

Kenya plans to invest about 700 million dollars (Sh52 billion) from donors and government over the next few years in transmission lines, to end power shortages that have rocked the country in the last few years.

Among the planned projects is construction of a second transmission line to Uganda, which is expected to be complete by 2012.

Mr Njoroge said other lines to Tanzania and Ethiopia are expected to be complete by 2015.

"Sharing out resources with our neighbours is necessary, as each country has its own potential. For example, Uganda has the advantage of hydropower because of the Nile, while Kenya has a lot of geo-thermal potential," Mr Njoroge said.

In addition, the construction of 500MW transmission lines to connect Kenya and Ethiopia is already 40 per cent complete, with the long-term goal of securing more energy to the national grid.

Pool together

"The level of electricity price reduction will depend on how much power we are able to pool together, which will be known in the next three to four years," he said.

He was speaking on Monday during the opening of the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) workshop going on this week.

The delegates will be looking at ways of exploiting the natural resources to enhance energy trade through ways like looking at how the pricing of electricity can be done between member countries.