Nairobi — Fruits of the improved bilateral relations between Kenya and Ethiopia became evident last week with the government's call for tenders for establishment of power substations in the intended importation of electricity from the later.
This heralds a process that will see Kenya import some of Ethiopia's excess electricity to address its power deficit.
Though with a capacity of 2,000 megawatts, the common line between Kenya and Ethiopia will start with an initial exchange of 400 megawatts as per the deal signed in Nairobi last month. This figure is expected to increase according to the reliability and efficiency on the side of the supplier.
The announcement comes barely a month after newly installed Ethiopian Prime Minister visited Nairobi in attempts to boost trade between the two countries. The visit saw him meet President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a host of government functionaries and the local business community.
The advertisement for the tenders was facilitated by the government owned Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (Ketraco). The advertisement that appeared in Kenyan dailies called on tenders for the installation of substations in Suswa, Kenya and Wolayita Sodo in Ethiopia.
The year-long project will be followed by the laying of high voltage lines between the two countries in what will prove a major boost to Kenya's national electricity grid.
The project is being funded by a host of financiers led by International Development Association of the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank.
Ethiopia is one of the few African countries currently enjoying a disposable deficit of power generation. Most of its peers are struggling under the reels of serious power shortages and challenges in generation.
Kenya has in the recent days upped its search for sufficient power to mitigate against an erratic supply which had prompted an outcry from the local business community. Apart from this, the government is spearheading the construction of several other generation stations with a keen emphasis on renewable energy majorly wind and solar.
Just last week, President Kibaki officially inaugurated the Kipevu Power Plant along Mombasa Road which will contribute some 115 megawatts to the national grid.
The power plant constructed at a cost of $130 million will be a major reprieve to the national grid. Attending the event were Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi and Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN) Managing Director Eddy Njoroge.
During the occasion, Kibaki said his government was keen on efforts aimed at ensuring reliability in power supply as this is what would drive manufacturing as the country strives to achieve its development blueprint, the Vision 2030.
"we will continue working with development partners to ensure that Kenya has adequate power supply to run its engines of economic and social growth. you will see more of such power projects coming up," said Kibaki.
Kenya has a current installed capacity of 1,500 megawatts, serving on 30 per cent of the over 40 million population mostly in urban areas.