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Talks on EAC power master plan this month

Nairobi: Energy ministers across East Africa are set to meet by end January to discuss a regional master plan, as they seek to end the bloc’s crippling power shortages. The East Africa Community Secretariat is finalising details of the meeting which  is expected to attract executives from regulatory authorities and private sector power producers.

They will discuss regional priorities in terms of power generation and transmission in line with the EAC power master plan, and agree on fund-raising initiatives. The gathering is also expected to develop a framework that will enable regional governments and the private sector to invest in energy generation projects.

The region is battling power shortages which in 2011 plunged the bloc into darkness, slowing business growth and hurting households. The power cuts signalled one of East Africa’s’ perennial problems: The bloc has never had enough power in the first place — in Kenya, for example, only 48 per cent of urban and 4 per cent rural households are connected to the national grid.

A slight drop in water levels of hydropower dams leads to serious energy shortages. In Tanzania, 12-hour power cuts began in June, when a drop in water levels in Mtera dam in Iringa region forced Tanzania Electric Supply Company to resort to load shedding. Industries reported shrinking their work day from two to just a single shift, and some suspending production.

It is understood, the EAC council of ministers had directed the secretariat to fast track the establishment of the EAC power pool by June 2012, to enable power sharing within the region. The EAC earmarked several priority projects that are critical for ensuring regional interconnectivity and for enhancing power generation. For example, Singida-Arusha-Nairobi 400 KV interconnector is expected to be complete by 2014. 

The EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera, says the feasibility study and preparation of tender documents for a 400kv transmission line through Singida, Arusha and Nairobi will cost $3 million.

Bujagali 250MW project is under construction and the project is expected to be commissioned in the course of this year. The cost of the project is $116 million. The 220kV transmission line between Uganda and Rwanda funded by AfDB will cost $57 million, according to the EAC boss.

A 220kV transmission line between Rwanda and Burundi will cost $20 millionand is expected to be completed by 2014.

The Rusumo-Nyakanazi 220kv, Rusumo-Kigali 220kv interconnector and Rusumo-Bujumbura 220kv interconnector should be complete by 2015.

The  2,100MW Stienglers Gorge hydro-power project is expected to materialise in 2017, while Kiwira Coal Plant in Tanzania with a capacity to generate 200MW will become operational in 2014.

Rwanda peat power production is projected to generate 400MW by 2013, while Burundi will commence a peat power plant with 200MW capacity by 2015.

Ayago hydropower plant with a capacity to generate 600MW by 2018 and Rusumo Hydropower plant will generate 90MW by 2016.

2 January 2012
Adam Ihucha
The East African
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