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Kenya Hit by Nationwide Power Failure, Electricity Provider Says

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May 28 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy, has been hit by a nationwide power failure caused by faulty transmission lines, the only electricity distributor said.

“At around 1.30 p.m. this afternoon, the two transmission lines between the Olkaria geothermal load center and Ndenderu sub-station near Nairobi tripped, while they were carrying 400 megawatts of electricity,” Kenya Power Ltd. said in an e-mailed statement from the capital. “Subsequently, the national interconnected grid and generating system also tripped, causing a national power outage.”

Engineers are working to get electricity supplied from neighboring Uganda to the Sondu Miriu power station in western Kenya, it said.

Kenya, which generates almost half of its power from hydroelectric plants, has installed capacity of 1,600 megawatts, with peak power demand of 1,500 megawatts growing at an average rate of 8 percent a year. Kenya Electricity Generating Co., the biggest power producer, make 1,232 megawatts, while four private companies generate the balance.

Kenya Power, received 208,000 customer complaints from April 9 to April 15 compared with 93,000 over the same period last year because of heavy rainfall that damaged equipment and caused two weeks of mass outages.

The company, which adds about 200,000 users annually, supplies power to about 2.2 million customers in a country of 42 million people. It is seeking to reach about half of the population by 2020 and make the electricity supply more reliable.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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