Kenya plans interconnection to avert more power shortages

In a bid to ensure constant power supply, Kenya has commissioned a consultancy firm to work out logistics of linking its grid to the power networks of Tanzania and South Africa, according to a report from BBC Monitoring Africa.

If the project materializes, Energy Minister Raila Odinga has said it would step up power on Kenya’s grid. The minister was speaking last Friday at a seminar on commercial development of geothermal resources in Kenya. He said the government was committed to provision of cost effective and sustainable energy.

As a result of the 2000 drought in Kenya, consumers experienced frustrating power rationing which Odinga said, served as “a wake-up call” for the authorities to look for alternative sources of energy. Kenya is dependent upon hydroelectric generation with over 83 per cent of its power produced in this way.

“The intensity and scale of power rationing last year was the worst ever in Kenya’s living memory and its effects to the domestic economy was devastating”, Odinga said.

He said the crisis would have been averted if government had commissioned at least six power plants with a combined capacity of 388 MW, as recommended in the 1994 national development plan.

According to the minister, Kenya remained the “undisputed pacesetter in the field of geothermal exploitation” in Africa. Kenya plans to commission at least six geothermal power plants with a combined capacity of 3894 MW in addition to investing in solar energy.

The Energy Ministry, in conjunction with the meteorological department, was planning to develop a national wind map, he said.

Odinga said the northern Kenya town of Marsabit has been identified for installation of a wind-powered electricity generation plant that would add 4400 MW to the national grid.

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