Ethiopia imports now account for 11pc of electricity on Kenya’s grid

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Ethiopia now supplies 11 percent of the electricity consumed by Kenyans daily, growing the Horn of Africa country’s stake in local power supply.

Data from Kenya Power shows imports from Ethiopia Electric Power beat supply from thermal generators and solar to emerge as the fourth largest source of power supply.

Geothermal retained its lead as the top source of electricity fed to the national grid with a share of 40 percent followed by hydro which contributed 24 percent.

Wind contributed 17 percent while thermal and solar contributed the least share at five percent and three percent respectively.

“Thermal power dispatched has averaged five – eight percent of the total with improved hydrology,” said Kenya Power Managing Director Joseph Siror during the company’s operational update in Nairobi this week.

Kenya began to import 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Ethiopia in January last year.

“The supply from Ethiopia will be stepped up to 400MW in less than three years,” said Dr Siror.

Ethiopia is one of only two countries from which Kenya imports electricity.

The other is Uganda, which has been exchanging electricity with Kenya for decades to address generation deficits on either side of the border.

In this arrangement, however, Kenya has almost always been the net importer of electricity from the neighbour.

Kenya is also set to start exchanging electricity with Tanzania with an interconnector between the two countries currently undergoing live tests before commercial supply commences.

According to Dr Siror, Kenya will be exporting power to Tanzania through its State utility, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco).

“We have already had discussions with our counterparts from Tanesco and everything is ready to start power exports to Tanzania,” he said.

Power imports from Ethiopia have been critical in stabilising local supply and came in handy, especially during the biting drought that ravaged the country at the beginning of last year.

Kenya and Ethiopia signed a power purchase agreement in July 2022 for $0.065(Sh10.20) per unit, which is much cheaper than power from independent power producers (IPPs).

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