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Kenya joins regional power supply plan

May 18, 2006 - The Nation

Kenya is among three countries set to benefit from a Sh 47.5 bn ($ 660 mm) electricity generation project. Kenya was working alongside Tanzania and Zambia on a joint interconnection project expected to help the countries access electricity from southern Africa, Energy assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri said. This is also expected to reduce electricity costs and eradicate shortages.

Mr Kiunjuri made the announcement while reading a joint communique after a meeting between ministers from the three countries in Mombassa. "The project will also increase opportunities for regional electricity trade within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)," he said. Present were Zambia's minister for Energy and Water Development, Mr Felix Mutati, and Tanzania's minister for Energy and Minerals, Dr Ibrahim Msabaha.

The project is to be developed in two stages. Phase One will transfer more than 200 MW from the Southern African Power Pool at a cost of Sh 25 bn ($ 358 mm). "Phase Two, which is estimated to cost Sh 21 bn ($ 302 mm), will have a transfer capacity of 400 MW," Mr Kiunjuri said. The first phase is scheduled to be completed by 2009 and the second in 2014. In Phase Two, a second circuit is to be added onto the Zambia-Tanzania inter-connector and the section between Singida and Arusha in Tanzania would be reinforced. "Apart from transmission of power, the towers carrying the high voltage transmission conductors will also carry low voltage conductors for rural electrification along the transmission corridor," the assistant minister said.

The innovative design would enable communities living close to the line to be supplied with electricity, which Mr Kiunjuri said would enhance the social and economic development of Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. "A telecommunications fibre optic cable will be installed on the transmission line, to enhance communication links between the East African Community and SADC member States," he said.

Negotiations for funding and implementing the Tanzania-Kenya inter-connector components with a Dutch firm, Vatech Elin Holec High Voltage, are at an advanced stage. Financing under the concessionary Dutch programme is expected to be in place by early 2007. Construction should start soon thereafter and is projected to be completed in 24 months, Mr Kiunjuri said.

The technical, economic, financial and environmental studies on the Zambia-Tanzania inter-connector, which will be the second phase, have been completed. With regard to the reinforcement of the transmission system within Tanzania to facilitate transfer of power to Kenya, the environmental studies are in progress and will be completed in May, he said.

The three governments had secured grants worth Sh 57 mm or ($ 800,000) for preparatory activities on the project from the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparatory Fund. A consortium of consultants had been hired as transaction advisers to provide financial, technical and legal advisory services for the initial stage of the project. Source: The Nation