The Ethiopia-Kenya 500kV power line project has received a US$348m loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), reports Reuters. Of this amount, Ethiopia will receive US$232m and Kenya, US$116m.
The cross-border power line project, costing US$1.26m, is entering its second phase. The World Bank supplied US$684m for the project’s first phase in July. The World Bank, the French Development Agency and the Ethiopian Kenyan governments will be co-funding the 1,068km high-voltage transmission line which is scheduled for completion in 2017.Converter stations will be set up at Wolayta-Sodo (Ethiopia) and Suswa (Kenya), with a power transfer capacity of up to 2,000MW, reports All Africa.
Through this project, Ethiopia will be able to sell its surplus electricity to Kenya. The transmission line will reduce energy costs, promote sustainable and renewable power generation, and reduce thermal power emissions. The electricity, originating from Ethiopia’s existing and future power plants, will help improve Kenya’s pressured power supply which is unable to keep up with a growing demand. New gas and oil discoveries in Kenya are placing pressure on the national grid, explains Business Day. The country has been experiencing constant power blackouts and for this reason, its government has been investing in its power infrastructure, explains Reuters. According to AfDB, the transmission line will see an additional 870,000 households receive power by 2018. By 2022, this figure will grow to 1.4 million households. The commercial sector is also set to benefit by an additional 3,100GWh of power by 2018 and by 2022, this figure will increase to about 5,100GWh.
The cross-border power line project falls under the Eastern Electricity Highway Project. The project intends to promote electricity trade between East African economies whose energy demand is predicted to escalate significantly in less than a decade, writes All Africa. The exploration of oil and gas have seen a major increase in recent years. Hydrocarbon discoveries in Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are transforming the region, explains Business Day.The joining of power systems will create a "power pool" so that these countries can draw on Ethiopia's rich hydropower resources. The clean power from Ethiopia will replace fossil-fuel generated power as many of these countries rely on costly diesel-fuelled emergency generators for thermal power during outages.
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East African countries are host to an abundance of natural energy resources. With sufficient financial support and government backing, each country will be able to realize its potential. With the Eastern Electricity Highway Project, East African countries can trade the power from these natural resources, creating strong economic growth in the region.