Tanzania, Uganda still to join EA power pool as funds flow in


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Tanzania, Uganda still to join EA power pool as funds flow in

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company's sub-station at Mulago in Kampala. Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti and Libya are yet to join the East African Power Pool even after months of persuasion by the Addis Ababa-based outfit.


Posted Sunday, January 10 2010 at 12:00

Tanzania, Uganda, Djibouti and Libya are yet to join the East African Power Pool even after months of persuasion by the Addis Ababa-based outfit.

This is despite the fact that funds are already flowing into the organisation's coffers both from the members and donors.

"All Comesa countries are expected to join EAPP as per the decision by the Comesa Summit. We have sent the necessary documents to them since they have indicated that they are committed to joining," EAPP executive secretary Jasper Oduor, told The EastAfrican.

Although seven East and North African countries - Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan - are working together under the East African Power Pool (EAPP) to fast-track research, co-operation, interconnection and joint power production in the region, the reluctance by the four countries is now the single biggest challenge to the regional body's secretariat.

The secretariat is financed by member utility firms, while projects and programmes are financed by development partners mainly the European Union, African Development bank, Norad, Undesa and Usaid.

EAPP has already secured Euro 2.7 million ($4 million) from the EU. The funds are being used to strengthen the capability of the EAPP permanent secretariat to improve the integration of the electricity markets of the region into a regional electricity market.

The funds will also be used in the preparation of the Eastern Africa Power Market Development Plan, preparation of a strategic and business plan, as well as financing the development of power market rules and agreements for cross-border trade.

An extra $1 million under the African Development Bank-Nepad fund will be spent on the drafting of the EAPP regional power system masterplan and regional grid code. It also involves training, and the development of an information system. The project is expected to be completed by end of 2010.

"Other activities necessary for power trade are being identified and compiled while the necessary funding is sought," Mr Oduor said.

The actual interconnector developments are being financed under the Nile Basin Initiative/Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme (Nelsap).

In collaboration with the African Development Bank and representatives of Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, Nelsap launched interconnection of national electricity grids of the Nile Equatorial Lakes countries in Uganda on September 8, 2009.

Work is expected to start by the beginning of 2011 with the hope that the power exchange market to be created among those five countries will result in low cost of power supply, systems' stability, security of supply and optimisation in the use of the energy resources.

Each country will implement the portion of the project on its territory while a co-ordination unit will be established at Nelsap.

The project consists of the construction and strengthening of interconnection of electricity networks of five countries: Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Interconnected lines

It consists of the Uganda (Bujagali) - Kenya (Lessos) 220 kV Interconnection line of 256 km, and the Uganda (Mbarara)-Rwanda (Kigali) 220 KV Interconnection line of 172 km. It also involves the Rwanda (Kigoma) - Burundi (Rwegura) 110 KV Interconnection line of 103km and upgrading the voltage of existing 70 KV line Ruzizi1 Hydropower Plant (DRC) to Bujumbura in 110 KV and from Ruzizi1 to Goma (DRC) in 220 KV with extensions 110 KV Bujumbura - Kiliba (DRC) and 220 KV Kibuye (Rwanda) - Goma - Mukungwa (Rwanda) - Kigali.

The project includes also the update of the feasibility study of the Lessos- Olkaria in Kenya.

It covers more than 700km of new transmission lines and 262km to be upgraded in five countries.

Other interconnections are also being prepared to create a regional power network.

Tanzania will be connected to its neighbours through the planned Kenya–Tanzania interconnection which is also being prepared by Nelsap, and through the extension of Tanzania grid to the northern west part to Rusumo Falls Hydropower Project shared among Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

On the other side, Uganda and DR Congo are planning to extend the Uganda electricity network to Beni and Bunia in DR Congo through a transmission line, Nkenda-Beni-Bunia. The Ethiopia-Kenya interconnection will allow the region to import power from Ethiopia up to 2000MW.

Ethiopia is the only Eastern African country with a sufficient power supply backed by a reserve margin of more than 30 per cent – double the recommended margin of 15 per cent.

According to Kenya's Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike, Kenya and Ethiopia have cleared environmental obstacles to a planned 400 Kilovolts international power transmission line. The 1,200 kilometre power grid is to be built at a cost of Ksh29 billion.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti and Ethiopia-Sudan 220KV lines are expected to be completed by June 2010, while phase one of the Ethiopia-Sudan 500KV line is projected to be completed by 2015. Phase two of the Sudan-Egypt line is expected to be completed by 2020. However, some of the projects might be delayed by financing.

"The feasibility studies had been completed and it is proposed to have a SPV. This would effectively have the entire region interconnected except for Eritrea and Somali. The IGAD has an initiative for this and there is a consultant looking at this," Mr Oduor said.

The EAPP was established in 2005 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by the countries of the Eastern Africa region under the intergovernmental and inter-utilities MoUs. It has also been adopted as a specialised institution of Common Market for East and Central Africa for electric power for Eastern Africa by the Heads of State and Government at the 11th Summit of Comesa in Djibouti in November, 2006.

The four countries' hesitation is now a major threat to implementation of EAPP objectives even as funds begin to flow into EAPP coffers. The region has been facing a critical shortage in energy supply.

Admitting that EAPP is yet to accumulate updated data on energy status in the region, Mr Oduor said, "We are currently developing a database and then the relevant information shall be on our website. Data collection is on-going."

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