Kenya is importing just half of the contracted electricity capacity from Ethiopia due to a biting drought that has reduced dam water levels in the Horn of Africa country.
Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir revealed on Monday Kenya has been tapping 100 megawatts of electricity from Ethiopia, which is only half the capacity of 200 megawatts that the two countries inked last year.
“Drought has had a major effect on the cost of electricity. Even Ethiopia, which we contracted 200 megawatts has only been supplying 100 megawatts because of the drought that they have been experiencing,” he said.
The minister made the disclosure in his submissions at the ongoing National Dialogue Committee hearings on government interventions that could lower the cost of living.
Mr Chirchir added that the Masinga Dam, which is owned by KenGen, has not supplied any electricity to the grid for the past two months due to low hydrology caused by drought.
Masinga is one of the 16 hydroelectric power dams supplying electricity to the grid in Kenya and is part of the Seven Forks Scheme Dams along the Tana River.
“We have gotten zero megawatts from Masinga in the last two months because the dam has no water. The rain that was being reported in western parts of the country was not being recorded in eastern, but it has started raining there and the dam is now filling up. It filled by three metres today," said Mr Chirchir.
Kenya in January started importing cheaper hydroelectric power from Ethiopia, with the capacity to be stepped up to 400MW in three years.
This is after the two countries, through their utilities Kenya Power and Ethiopia Electric Power (EEP), signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) in July last year.
The deal was heralded as a major coup towards lowering the cost of electricity in Kenya, especially by displacing the expensive thermal power from the grid.
Power imports from Ethiopia came in handy between January and March when Kenya was facing a biting drought that sharply cut local hydropower generation.
Kenyans are currently braving high power prices, which have helped push inflation to 6.9 percent in October, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) in last month’s power prices review raised the fuel energy charge to Sh4.94 per unit, an increase of 18.7 percent from Sh4.16 in September.
The Epra also raised the foreign exchange rate fluctuation adjustment from Sh1.38 per unit to Sh2.05, an increase of 48.5 percent.