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Kenya to spend 200 mln USD to boost reliability of electricity grid

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to spend 200 million U.S. dollars in the medium term to boost the reliability of the national electricity grid, a senior government official said on Monday.

Charles Keter, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, told a media briefing in Nairobi that the funds from both government and donors will be used to strengthen the electricity transmission lines.

“We are prioritizing investments in the electricity transmission lines as part of plans to achieve universal access to electricity,” Keter said during the commissioning of the first underground electricity cable in the country.

The seven-kilometer line will offer an alternative power route and additional capacity to Nairobi from the Olkaria Geothermal power plants.

Keter noted that an underground cable was necessary because the transmission line falls within the Nairobi National Park as well as in the flight path.

He added that the underground cable is part of the Nairobi Ring Project which involves the construction of a 100 km 400 Kilo Volt (kV) double circuit line.

“The project will improve the reliability and availability of power transmission in Nairobi by ensuring that electricity is not interrupted in case of failure on one of the circuits in the ring,” Keter said.

Keter said Kenya currently has a network of 20 electricity transmission lines that supply power throughout the country.

He added that the biggest challenge facing the expansion of transmission line is the acquisition of land that will be required for erection of the power lines.

“We have therefore formed a multisectoral agency comprising of Ministry of Land and Ministry of Interior to ensure that land acquisition for power infrastructure does not face undue delays,” he said.

Keter noted that Kenya will continue to exploit its huge geothermal power resources in order to lower the cost of electricity to consumers.

“We have so far taped approximately 600 MegaWatts out of a potential of 7,000 MW in the Rift Valley,” he added.

James Rege of Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO), noted that vandalism of power cables has increased the cost of investment in electricity transmission lines.

Rege said the latest electricity line that is expected to be completed is the 428 km line that will evacuate power from the Lake Turkana Wind Power to the country’s main power interchange.

He said Chinese contractors are set to complete the 96 million U.S. dollar line by the end of August so as to inject an additional 310 MW to the national grid.

Rege revealed that the Power China Guizhou Engineering and NARI Group Corporation were awarded the tender after the previous Spanish contractors declared bankruptcy.

KETRACO Managing Director Fernandes Barasa said that in order to protect investments in the power transmission lines, the government has enhanced penalties for power infrastructure vandals.

Barasa noted that operationalization of the Eastern African Power Pool comprising of seven member states are at an advanced stage in order to create regional electricity market.

He added that the power pool will be a vital economic catalyst by allowing the flow and trade of electricity from countries of surplus electricity to those with deficits.


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