By Manuel Odeny
September 23, 2012
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a Sh29.4 billion funding for the electricity highway project to Kenya from Ethiopia’s Gibe III dam project last week on Thursday.
The funding comes barely two months after the World Bank approved a Sh58billion loan that Ethiopia and Kenya needed to build a 20,000-kilometer high-voltage power line between the two countries.
The project seeks to increase supply of electricity in East Africa region which has seen demand rising steadily due to increased population that has caused severe power shortages.
“In Kenya… the additional power injected into the national grid will enable the supply of electricity to an additional 870,000 households by 2018, and a cumulative total of 1.4 million additional households by 2022, of which 18 per cent will be located in rural areas,” AfDB said in a press statement after its board approved the funding.
In the statement the bank also says businesses and industries will also benefit, with around 3,100 GWh of additional energy by 2018, increasing to around 5,100 GWh by 2022.
“The project is intended to promote power trade and regional integration, contribute to the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) countries’ social and economic development, and reduce poverty in those countries,” the bank said
Apart from the two banks other co-founders of the Sh106.5 electricity highway includes which is set for commissioning in November 2017 include the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Governments of Kenya and Ethiopia.
Once finished the project will involve construction of a 1,068 kilometre high-voltage direct current 500 kV transmission line between the two countries and putting up of associated converter stations at Wolayta-Sodo in Ethiopia and Suswa in Kenya.
The line will be able to transmit a power capacity of up to 2,000 MW.
“We have mobilized funds from other development partners in a timely and efficient manner. The project… has the potential to replace some fossil-fuelled thermal generation in the East African region,” Gabriel Negatu, AfDB’s Regional Director in charge of East Africa said.
It’s estimated that once finished the project will position Ethiopia as the main powerhouse and Kenya as the main hub for power trade in the East African region, Southern Africa, Egypt and Sudan.
“The East African region is blessed with abundant hydropower and geothermal energy resources which with the implementation of this flagship project will establish pooling of energy resources at the regional level to create a regional electricity market through power trading,” said Thierno Bah, AfDB’s Senior Power Engineer.
The project have received a go ahead even after human rights and environmental activists said the Gibe III damn has been controversial by forceful evictions of locals and its effect on flora and fauna in the River Omo.