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Kenya-Ethiopia power project moves notch higher

By Peter Kiragu | October 29th 2015

The construction of a high voltage direct current converter substation at Suswa for the power lines that will link Kenya and Ethiopian grids could commence one month from now and latest in January next year.

This follows the signing of a $230 million contract between the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company and a consortium of Siemens AG and IsoluxInginieria for the construction of the sub-station, which represents an important component of the Ethiopia – Kenya inter-connector.

The project, funded by the World Bank, is expected to be completed in 36 months once it is started. The transmission line contractors are already mobilised and they are expected to complete construction in December 2017.

Ketraco acting Managing Director Fernandes Barasa said after yesterday’s signing and upon receipt of advance payment guarantees as well as the performance guarantees, the advance payment would be paid to the contractors directly to allow the project to kickoff.

“We want to make sure that by 2018, we have the inter-connector in place,” Mr Barasa said during the signing ceremony. “This project will have a direct impact on the economy.”

It is expected that once complete, the project shall ensure affordable access to electricity by Kenyans, industries and the local governments due to the cheap hydro-power from Ethiopia. The interconnection will also offer alternate power supply to Kenya and Ethiopia in the dry season when hydro generation is dismal.

The project has a transmission capacity of 2,000 MW in either direction and will facilitate power trade in the East Africa Power Pool. Kenya Power already has a power purchase agreement with Ethiopia Electric Power Company for the supply of 400 MW. This new project will improve demand and supply over time.

The proposed bipolar 500 kV HVDC line will originate from WolyataSodo in Ethiopia and terminate in Suswa, Kenya. Suswa is a critical hub that will serve as an entry and exchange point for power into the national grid and facilitate power trade in the Eastern Africa Power Pool. The total length of the project is 1045Km, out of which 433km will be in Ethiopia and the remaining 612km in Kenya.

The transmission line contracts are funded through loans from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and The French Development Agency (AFD), while the HVDC Converter substation is funded through the World Bank.

The 612km transmission line in Kenya has been broken into Lots 4, 5 and 6 whose tenders have awarded.

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