Kenya, World Bank Consider $150 Million Off-Grid Power Project

  • Solar, wind electricity project may start by mid-2017
  • State is targeting installed capacity of 6,766MW by 2020

Kenya and the World Bank are in talks about financing a $150 million solar-and-wind project in the country’s remote, off-grid northeastern region.

“We anticipate firm positions on where this project will be situated,” before inviting international bidders to tender, Ben Chumo, the managing director of electricity distributor Kenya Power Ltd., said in an interview Wednesday in the capital, Nairobi.

The government of East Africa’s biggest economy is building more power plants as it targets a tripling of capacity to 6,766 megawatts by 2020, from about 2,327 megawatts. Most of the new capacity will be from renewable sources including geothermal, according to the state-run Energy Regulatory Commission. 

Construction of the solar-and-wind project is expected to start by mid-2017, Chumo said. Electricity consumers in the remote northeastern region are currently served by diesel-fuel generation.

Kenya Power, the nation’s sole electricity distributor, plans to add 1.5 million new customers to its 5.4 million client base next year, taking the number of people connected to the national grid to 70 percent, from 62 percent, Chumo said.

Kenyan consumers pay an average of 18.7 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 9 cents in neighboring Tanzania and 3 cents in Ethiopia, African Development Bank data shows. An unreliable and expensive power supply is cited by business as a deterrent to investment in the $63.4 billion economy.

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