By JOHN NJIRAINI
Efforts to improve electricity transmission facilities have received a boost after the Japanese Government extended Sh12 billion loan for construction of a high capacity line from Olkaria to Kisumu.
The 220 kv Olkaria – Lessos –Kisumu transmission line is expected to replace the existing 50-year- old line that has been a cause of frequent power outages and blackouts in the western region.
The new line will be used to evacuate clean electricity from the Olkaria geothermal power plants to Western, Nyanza and parts of Rift Valley provinces besides allowing power interchange with neighbouring Uganda.
The 290km project will be implemented by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) and is expected to be completed by 2016.
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Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said the Government is committed to invest in high voltage transmission lines to create a conducive investment climate and spur economic growth in line with Vision 2030.
Efficiency and security
"The objective of this project is to enhance efficiency, reliability and security of electricity power supply," he said during the loan signing ceremony at The Treasury building.
The Japanese Government also extended Sh281 million grant to Kenya to go towards HIV/Aids control programmes.
Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Toshihisa Takata signed the deal on behalf of his Government.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, who witnessed the signing, said the country should undertake massive investments in the energy sector to guarantee universal electricity connectivity by 2030.
Currently, only about 26 per cent of Kenyans have access to electricity. In particular, there is need to replace the aging electricity transmission and distribution facilities to tackle the problem of losing power in the facilities.
It is estimated that about 20 per cent of all electricity generated in the country is lost due to inefficient distribution and transmission facilities. Ketraco, the company established last year to oversee investments in transmission facilities, has said it requires a staggering Sh96 billion to construct 15 new high-capacity power lines as part of efforts to secure electricity supply across the country.