Good News-As East African States Pursue Joint Power Supply Plan

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East African countries are drawing up a joint plan to boost electricity supply across the region in the face of acute shortfalls sparked by poor rains.
They are aiming to create a power pool through the aggressive tapping of alternative power sources under the East African Power Master Plan (EAPP).
The proposed East African Power Master Plan (EAPP) is to be updated to include an earlier study by Kenya , Uganda and Tanzania, the original members of the East African Community (EAC).
The African Development Bank (AfDB) will finance the review to the tune of $1.2 million (Sh96 million) to update the EAC’s study of 2005.
The review, which is expected to last 15 months, will enable Kenya to connect her national power grid with those of neighbouring states with surplus power.
The plan advocates for exploitation of alternative sources to meet arising demand.
“The EAPP envisages a time frame of up to seven years to a fully-fledged regional power system, with the creation of a power pool as a central feature,” said Mr Magaga Alot, EAC’s spokesperson.
EAPP, with its secretariat in Addis Ababa, comprises Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While Tanzania and Uganda are not members of EAPP, it is understood that they have started to participate in some of the activities. Tanzania has an excess of 350 megawatts but it cannot be distributed to other countries because there is no interconnection in the region.
A transmission line connecting southern Ethiopia and Mt Longonot will be constructed to tap 500MW of hydro power and help narrow current deficit of national power requirements.
Construction follows completion of a feasibility study by a coalition of donors to establish the viability of the project to interconnect the national grids of the two countries. The study was undertaken by German power consultants Fitchner GMBH at a cost of Euros 1.7 million (about Sh17 million).
Feasibility study

“The feasibility study for a transmission line from Ethiopia to Nairobi is ready. This is one of the interconnection projects for the Nile Basin countries,” said Ms Domina Buzingo, AfDB’s country representative in Nairobi.

The Congo River has vast hydro potential enough to meet requirements for all the East and central African economies. Kenya also intends to tap into the southern Africa Power Pool, according to Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi.
“Procurement of consultancy services is at an advanced stage as both technical and financial evaluations have been completed.
A ‘No objection’ for the final evaluation is awaited from the AfDB after which consultancy services will be awarded,” says a brief seen by the Business Daily.
While interconnection is believed to be the least cost solution for power supply, geothermal is the most reliable form of renewable energy and hydro power is the cheapest source of electric power.
The potential in geothermal alone is 7,000 MW while huge potential is in renewable, solar and wind.

“Regional interconnection is the way to transform our economies and mitigate power shortage,” said infrastructure expert, Dr Eric Aligula.
Dr Aligula said high cost of fuel and over reliance on hydro power generation makes it necessary to diversify to other cost effective forms of energy as well as conservation for both domestic and industrial use.
“Geothermal is the key to affordable electricity and in the long run it will reduce the cost of electricity in the country,” said Dr Aligula of the Infrastructure and Economic Services Division at the public policy think tank - the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra).
In April, the EAC member states announced they will spend about $1.8 billion on the implementation of the power master plan in the next seven years.
Of this amount, some $1.2 billion will be used for power generation while $600 million( about Sh48 billion) will be spent on power transmission projects.