Chinese firm to construct power line connecting Kenya and Tanzania

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North China Power Engineering Company Ltd (NCPE) has been awarded a contract to construct a power line connecting Kenya and Tanzania to grow electricity trade with countries in East and Southern Africa for reliable supply.

The contract for the 96km power line connecting Kenya and Tanzania was awarded by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco), a power agency company who will be overseeing the project construction. The transmission line will run from Isinya substation in Kajiado to the border town of Namanga.

However, Kenya plans to use the line to link up with the Southern African power pool comprising Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa for power exchange.

According to a statement issued by Ketraco, the project will have the capacity to transfer 2,000MW of power in either direction. The interconnector will have positive impacts on the development of renewable sources of energy in Kenya and Tanzania given that the interconnected system of both countries will result in a larger, more stable system.

The project will be jointly financed by the Kenyan government and the African Development Bank (AfDB) whereby Kenya government will contribute US$42.9m while the AfDB adds US$22.4m towards the project. However, the project construction is expected to be completed within a period of 22 months.

Additionally, the project is aimed to interconnect the East African power pool, comprising Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda with the southern markets. Meanwhile, Kenya already has a transmission line connecting to Uganda and plans another line with Ethiopia.

In the near future, Kenya will sell excess power to undersupplied countries and buy from those with lower rates and during periods of undersupply, ensuring stable provision of cheap power.

The prospect of selling excess power is especially important for Kenya planning to add 5,000MW of renewable energy to the grid by 2020 amid concerns that the economy has no capacity to absorb it.