EEPCo set to supply power across East Africa
Five East African countries - Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda - are set to benefit from the Eastern Electricity Highway project, which will utilise Ethiopia’s surplus electric power to provision energy for the East African region. The plans were confirmed as a US$243mn loan agreement was signed, on 14 December 2012, between the Ethiopian government and the World Bank for the financing of a section of Eastern Electricity Highway project, which will connect Ethiopia’s electrical grid with Kenya. The project is expected to enable electricity power sharing between the two countries - in order to reduce energy costs whilst promoting sustainable and renewable power generation, and paving the way for more dynamic regional cooperation.
According to a World Bank representative, the new project marks the first phase of a regional east Africa power integration programme, which is likely to cost US$1.3bn when completed, eventually benefitting 212mn people living in the five beneficiary countries. Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank country director for Ethiopia, disclosed that the bank and the Ethiopian government remain focused on the partnership as a major pillar for financing during the 2013-2016 period. The project itself has two components: the construction of a high voltage direct current transmission line between Ethiopia and Kenya, and project management and capacity. The project is also expected to connect the East African electrical grid with the Southern and Northern African electrical grids.
The 500kV Ethio-Kenya transmission line is expected to be about 1,200km long and cost an extra US$200mn to reach a total expenditure of US$1.5bn when the cost for Kenyans to upgrade their power infrastructure to take in this new electrical power and be more efficient is included.
Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) CEO Mihret Debebe said the Ethio-Kenya electric transmission line project’s economic viability study has already been finished, as has its technical and financial study. He added that the process of hiring a consultancy firm is being finalised and the construction tender is expected to come out probably in May or June 2013 - with the first phase expected to accommodate 400MW, and the second phase incorporating other regional countries, ultimately translating into an Ethiopian power supply of at least 2,000MW.
"We expect power export to be a source of a substantial foreign exchange earner, with competitive power export prices," said Mihret, adding that the construction period is slated to be 36 months.
The second phase of power purchase agreement with the other regional countries is expected to be concluded in the near future, with Tanzania reportedly having already requested power provision. EEPCO confirms that Kenya will be paid a transmission charge, or what is commonly known as a ‘willing charge agreement’ - meaning Ethiopia is going to have an independent power export negotiation with third countries.
All the electric power projects that are connected to the national grid - including the 1870MW Gibe III hydroelectric power project - depending on the electric network situation are expected to contribute to the Ethio-Kenya transmission line project.
The Ethio-Sudan transmission line project has entered its fifth week of power testing at 100MW. Inauguration is scheduled for early 2013, and its power export is expected to reach up to 200MW.
Ethiopia’s biggest hydroelectric power project, the 6,000MW Grand Renaissance Dam (GRD), will have an electrical transmission line stretching to Khartoum, eventually reaching Cairo. The study and design phases of this project have been completed already.