The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) has awarded the contract for the Kenya, Tanzania interconnector transmission line to the North China Power engineering company.

The transmission line from Isinya to the Namanga border will link Kenya’s power grid to that of Southern Africa in bid to stabilize power supply and lower electricity costs.

KETRACO Managing Director Fernandez Barasa said the interconnecting transmission line will enable the country sell excess electricity to countries such as Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa and buy whenever there is a challenge to the grid.

“With a capacity to transfer 2,000MW 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,” Mr Barasa said.

Construction of the transmission line will take 22 months and is being financed by the government which has set aside Sh439.4 million shillings and the African Development Bank which has offered a Sh2.2 billion grant.

The east African power pool comprises of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia while the southern Africa pool comprises of Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“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,” Mr Barasa said.

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.

By Fred Odanga Azelwa.