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Economy

Dar buys less power in two years as it cuts back Kenya imports

Power lines. Tanzania is planning a 2,000MW power supply line to Kenya by 2018. PHOTO | FILE
Power lines. Kenya’s electricity imports from Uganda grew by nearly a third in the year to July. PHOTO | FILE   

Tanzania has for the first time in two years cut its purchase of electricity from Kenya as its imports of other goods from Nairobi continue to drop.

Official data shows that power exports to Tanzania dropped 67.3 per cent to 170,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) in the first three months to March.

Kenya and Tanzania have a pact for power exchange at their border towns which are not connected to the national grid.

“Kenya and Tanzania have cross border electrification arrangement in which Tanzania sells power to Kenya’s parts not connected to the national grid via Lunga Lunga as Kenya sells to Tanzania via Namanga,” said Joseph Oketch, director of electricity at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

“It is a small power trade and therefore it fluctuates because there is no transmission line connecting the two countries.”

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But the data shows Nairobi stopped buying power from Dar es Salaam last year. Tanzania, which is constructing a 240-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant, did not buy any electricity from Kenya in February and March.

Dar es Salaam has in recent years been cutting back on its imports from Kenya, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows.

Under President John Magufuli, Tanzania purchased Sh5.2 billion worth of goods from Nairobi in the year to March, down from Sh5.7 billion in a similar period of 2015 and Sh10.1 billion in 2012.

Uganda, however, stepped up electricity purchase from Kenya in the review period.

Unlike with Tanzania, Kenya has a direct transmission line connecting it with Uganda via Tororo, enabling bulk power trade.

Uganda bought 10.4 million units from Nairobi in the first quarter of the year, accounting for 98 per cent of Kenya’s power exports that stagnated at 10.6 million units in the review period.

Power sales to Kampala have been rising from 8.1 million units in the first quarter of 2014 to 10.1 million units last year.

Data shows Kenya increased power imports from 14 million in 2015 to 18.3 million units, with the bulk coming from Uganda at 17.6 million units.

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

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