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Economy

Drought lifts power imports from Uganda 300 per cent

Kenya Power staff repairs transmission lines in Eldoret. file photo | nmg
Kenya Power staff repairs transmission lines in Eldoret. file photo | nmg 

Kenya’s electricity imports from Uganda grew 300 per cent in the four months to April as drought cut local generation of hydro-electric power by 347 million kilowatt hours.

Kenya imported 92.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) from Uganda in the four months compared to 13.66 million units in the same period last year – marking a 302 per cent growth, according to official data.

This is a departure from last year when Kenya cut by half electricity imports from Uganda following the injection of the additional 280 megawatts geothermal power to the national grid a year earlier.

But the drought, which follows low rainfall during the October and November rainy season, has left at least 1.3 million people in need of food aid and driven down water levels in dams.

Around 910 million kWh of the energy supplied to the Kenyan grid came from hydropower in the four months, down from 1.25 billion units in the same period last year. The supply shortfall was plugged by increased intake of imports and expensive diesel-fired electricity. 

Kenya has a direct electricity transmission line connecting with Uganda via Tororo, enabling bulk power imports.

Besides Uganda, Kenya also imports power from Ethiopia to feed the neighbouring Moyale town, which is not linked to the national electricity grid.

Kenya bought 870,000 units of power from Ethiopia in the first quarter, up from 740,000 units in a similar period last year. Official data shows that Kenya’s electricity exports to Uganda fell 95 per cent to 740,000 units in the four months, reversing a trend where the exports have been rising.

Uganda is the largest market for Kenyan goods and has recently been pushing for increased trade with Nairobi.

Uganda has been exporting electricity to Kenya under an agreement signed during colonial times but renegotiated at Uganda’s insistence in 1997.

Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda plan to build a 400 kilovolt electricity line from Olkaria to Birembo in Rwanda.

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