By John Njiraini
Construction of a Sh20 billion electricity transmission line is set to commence after the Government secured financing for the project.
Kenya Electricity Transmission Company said it has secured a loan facility for construction of the high voltage 400 kV line from Mombasa to Nairobi.
The funds came from the African Development Bank, France Development Agency and the European Investment Bank with each availing Sh6 billion. The Government also committed an additional Sh6 billion.
The money is intended to finance the line that would be used to transport thermal power being generated at the newly commissioned Rabai power station that has a capacity of 50 MW.
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The funds would also be used to construct a 220-kv line to connect a new thermal power plant being built in Embakasi by Tsavo Power with a capacity of 56 MW to the national grid.
Ketraco has already contracted Parsons Brinckerhoff of United Kingdom as the project consultant and has put out bids for the design, manufacture, supply and erection of thelines.
New embakasi plant
"We intend to open the bid in January and award the contract in March and we anticipate it will take 27 months to complete the job," said Andolo Ambasi, the Project leader.
Construction of the Mombasa - Nairobi transmission line has been identified as one of the key projects that would ensure constant supply of power for the capital city.
It comes soon after the country emerged from a biting power rationing program due to over-reliance on hydro generation.
Though the line would guarantee uninterrupted thermal supply, observers are weary the country is committing to relying on the expansive mode of power generation.
Diesel verses Water
Due to a prolonged drought over the past three years, burning of diesel has replaced hydro as the main electricity generation form.
With the unpredictability of crude oil prices, there are fears Kenyans and manufacturers would continue paying a high price for power.
The lines are part of huge investments being undertaken in transmission and distribution facilities over the next six years in efforts to meet power demand expected to increase by an average of eight per cent annually.
Other transmission projects to be undertaken include 1,500 km of 132 kv line to support the rural electrification programme and the 1,100 km Kenya-Ethiopia inter-connector that will enable the country buy electricity from Ethiopia.