By Nick Thiong’o
A Chinese engineering firm, North China Power Engineering Company, has been awarded the contract to building a power transmission line that will connect Kenya to Tanzania.
According to a Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) advertisement of the project contract issued in July last year, the Chinese firm will now build a 96-kilometre long 400 kilovolts high voltage alternating current transmission line from Isinya in Kajiado to Namanga, the town at border of Kenya and Tanzania. A substation will also be constructed at Isinya in the project which is expected to be complete in 22 months from commencement.
A statement from Ketraco to newsrooms after the signing the contract with the Chinese firm said the project will cost Sh2.6 billion of which the Kenyan government will contribute Sh434 million while Sh2.24 billion will be financed by African Development bank (AfDB).
From Namanga the transmission line will connect to a similar project that Tanzania is undertaking for a 414 kilometres transmission line from Singida, a town in the country’s Central region to the border with Kenya.
The statement from Ketraco said when completed, the transmission line from Isinya to Singida will have been built at a cost of Sh30.9 billion.
“With a capacity to transfer 2000MW in either direction, the interconnector will have positive impacts on the development of renewable sources of energy in Kenya and Tanzania because the interconnected system of both countries will result in a larger, more stable system. The interconnection will also decrease power reserve capacity to be installed as it will enable the sharing of power with the Southern African Power Pool,” said Ketraco in the statement.
The project is expected to substitute the costly thermal energy with less costly geothermal and hydro energy, as well as increase revenue by monetizing the unused optic fiber telecommunication channels strung on the transmission towers.
“Together with the completion of the Ethiopia – Kenya and the Lessos – Tororo lines, this regional interconnector, power evacuator and system strengthening line will certainly facilitate East and Southern African Power Pool exchange when Kenya and Rwanda receive 400MW and 200MW respectively in 2017 from Ethiopia,” says Ketraco’s managing director Fernandes Barasa.