Kenya expects looming power crisis

Oct 07, 2008 02:00 AM

There is a looming power crisis in the country. That was the message delivered during the opening of the National Energy Conference. Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi painted a bleak future if the country did not massively invest in new power generation projects fast enough.
"To put it bluntly, there is a looming power supply crisis in the country. We are not generating sufficient electricity. We have a chronic power shortage due to the inability to keep pace with demand," Mr Murungi said.

He said the sector was characterised by widespread, frequent and extended power outages that made power unreliable for the economic growth rate of 10 % envisaged in Vision 2030. The total installed capacity is 1,215 MW against a peak demand of 1,150 MW.
"This capacity is grossly inadequate. From time to time, some plants have to be taken out for major repairs or routine maintenance. The country is operating with a reserve margin that falls far below the recommended international average of 15 %," said the minister.

He said to meet the power deficit, the Government has had to import on a short term basis 150 MW of very expensive diesel fired emergency power. He added that the skyrocketing of international fuel prices had led to fuel adjustment levy of Sh 6.27 KW in July from Sh 2.75 KW in January which had led to an escalation in electricity bills.
"To meet the rising demand we have to double our generation capacity to 2,030 MW by 2012, and raise it to 3,600 MW in 2017 and to more than 10,000 MW by 2030." he said. This, he said required a new funding system and massive mobilisation of private sector investments in power generation projects.

He also said there was need to expand the power mix of energy sources that are not dependent on unpredictable international oil prices and erratic weather changes.
Mr Murungi attributed the low quality of electricity supply to past neglect, and stagnation in the upgrade and expansion of the transmission grid. He said 2,300 km of a 132 kV line would have to be constructed at cost of Sh 32 bn by 2015. Others were a high voltage 400 kV Mombasa-Nairobi line that is nearly completed at cost of Sh 18 bn and an Ethiopia-Kenya interconnector that is estimated to cost Sh 29 bn.

Source / The Nation
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