The Sh9 billion Rabai power transmission project in Lamu starts in August and is expected to trigger commmercial and industrial activity in the region.
Power transmitter Ketraco has acquired more than 80 per cent of the 323km way-leave, the parastatal’s corporate communications manager Raphael Mworia said.
The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited official said ground breaking is scheduled for next month, adding engineers were finalising soil analysis.
Once complete, it will replace the 33kV single-circuit serving the region with 220 kV capacity that will provide more reliable power. The project is funded by the China Exim Bank under the rural electrification programme. It is aimed to serve Malindi, Garsen, Witu, Mpeketoni, Mokowe, and Lamu.
“The proposed project will replace many privately operated small diesel power stations which are extremely expensive to run,” Mr Mworia said.
The 323km project will run from Rabai, where Ketraco has acquired a 200-acre piece of land to build a sub-station. Other sub-stations will be established in Malindi, Garsen and Lamu.
“We have acquired all the land we require and compensation is over 90 per cent complete,” Mr Mworia said.
In Lamu, the project will cater for increased power requirement to run the proposed Lamu port, proposed sugar factories in the area around Tana Delta and other industries in the region.
Lack of reliable power, said Mr Mworia, has hurt small-scale firms, resulting in reduced productivity in a number of sectors. Malindi will get the increased power before the end of next year, with Lamu expected to get power nine months after, he said.
The contractor, China CAM Engineering Company Ltd has already acquired 2 campsites at Gede and Garsen both with a combined capacity to accommodate 400 workers once the construction of the project commences.
Isolated distribution network of electricity in Lamu translates to low generation capacity, meaning that not all connected consumers can be supplied with sufficient electricity.
The existing systems can only accomodate limited connections, locking out a huge number of potential customers.
“The power supply in Malindi, which is the only part of the project area supplied directly from the interconnected grid, is insufficient and unreliable,” Mworia said, adding that power supply is often interrupted with consumers experiencing voltage fluctuations.
As part of the project, Kenya’s first marine cable will be installed to transmit power from Mokowe on the mainland via the Indian Ocean to the Lamu Island, which relies on power generators.
Kenya Power has embarked on a plan to boost energy transmission capacity to meet load growth across the country. The plan entails construction of 38 transmission projects totalling 3,697km.
The estimated cost of committed projects is Sh43.3 billion ($482 million) while other transmission projects planned for the near future will require approximately Sh78.8 billion ($876 million).
Among the scheduled Ketraco transmission projects are; Mombasa-Nairobi 400kV double circuit, Mumias-Rangala 132kV single circuit, Sangoro-Sondu 132kV, Kindaruma-Mwingi-Garissa and Eldoret-Kitale.
Others are Kenya (Lessos)-Uganda (Tororo) 220kV single circuit, Rabai-Malindi-Garsen-Lamu 220kV single circuit, Reactive Compensation phase 1 of Nairobi Transmission system and an upgrade of Embakasi from 180MVA to 270MVA.