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Three-nation electricity project to cost $ 350 mm

Sep 15, 2006 - The Post

The Zambia-Kenya-Tanzania electricity inter-connector project is expected to cost about $ 350 mm. According to preliminary information following the deliberations of the just ended joint meetings involving Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda, the $ 350 mm, approximately K 1.5 tn, project could be completed by 2009. Following a final round of talks involving the electricity utility companies from Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda, it was resolved that the rest of this year would be spent on packaging the project and mobilisation of funds.

Rwanda has also asked to be part of the interconnection. Director for power operations of Eletrogaz Limited (Rwanda's electricity utility) Brian Allan said the company was hopeful that the definition of the project would be clear in the next six months before actual roll out for the project could start. Allan said only 5 % of Rwanda's 8.2 mm population had access to electricity. "Rwanda is currently suffering from significant shortages of electricity. We would like to see the project kick off as soon as possible," said Allan.

Tanzania Electricity Supply Corporation (TANESCO) general manager for transmission Hans Lottering said the company was committed to the project. "We thank Zambia for this initiative. The interconnection will help us increase the number of people with access to electricity and also strengthen Tanzania's transmission network," Lottering said. Lottering said only 10 % of Tanzania's 30 mm population had access to electricity. He said the Tanzanian government had a programme of connecting up to 100,000 people to the national electricity grid annually.

Kenya Power and Lighting Company managing director Jasper Oduor said the company was confident it would stand to benefit from the project. "The benefits will also make it possible for us to optimise the use of power and enable us supply power among the countries involved, depending on who has extra or who needs more," Odour said.

Zesco managing director Rhodnie Sisala said the electricity inter-connector would be like a common link that would connect east and southern Africa up to South Africa. Sisala said the issue of tariffs was still being discussed. He said the project had the full backing of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as it was one way for the promotion of infrastructure on the continent. Sisala said among the potential institutions that had indicated willingness to provide concessional loans were the African Development Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa and the World Bank.

Ministry of Energy and Water Development manager for the promotion of private power investment John Wright said the project, due to its nature, would be undertaken through a public sector approach. The inter-connector project has three components with the first one being the development of a 700-km power line from Serenje in Zambia to Mbeya in Tanzania.