Ethiopia and Kenya make joint request to World Bank over electricity supply

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The World Bank is scheduled to meet in the month of September 2010 to decide whether to grant a 380 million dollar joint funding request from Ethiopia and Kenya to interconnect their power grids. The request was made by the Manager of Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), Miheret Debebe, and the Energy Ministry of Kenya.

The World Bank will also discuss a 50 million dollar funding proposal from Ethiopia for its Gibe III Hydro Power on March 4, 2010. The objective is to increase hydroelectric capacity to meet its domestic needs and also export to countries in the eastern African sub-region.

Ethiopia’s inadequate annual power generating capacity, which presently stands at 840MW, has prompted the government to undertake massive hydropower projects with the aim of addressing the problem, which according to Sofian Ahemed, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, will help “curb the current power shortage and contribute to Ethiopia’s economic growth”.

Apart from the Gibe III project, two major projects, Tekeze and Gilgel Gibe II Hydro Power Dams, are expected to generate 300MW and 420MW of power, respectively, upon completion in a month’s time. Transmission lines are under construction to connect Djibouti and Sudan to the hydroelectric power.

Kenyan negotiations

Kenya was initially set to import power from Ethiopia’s contentious and biggest hydropower project, Gibe III — with a potential power generation capacity of 1800MW, but has seen the plan delayed. This comes after a dispute over the project’s environmental and social impact assessment delayed foreign financial support. The project was originally due for completion at the end of 2009.

With the delay of Gibe III, Ethiopia and Kenya have began negotiations to export power from Ethiopia’s national power grid upon commencement of the Gibe II hydroelectric dam, which is already undergoing trials. The joint funding proposal seeking financial support from the World Bank has indicated that the project will connect “about 1200 km of 500 kV DC line between Sodo Substation (Ethiopia) to metropolitan Nairobi, including the two converting stations to transport 2,000 MW from Southern Ethiopia to the Eastern Africa Power Pool.”

The African Development Bank provided financial support for the construction of the Gibe II substation.

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