Tanzania Plans Ethiopia Energy Imports as Power Pool Emerges

  • East Afriican nations spending $1.6 billion to double capacity
  • Tanzania to tender for new inter-connector line soon

Tanzania expects to begin importing electricity from Ethiopia in 2019 when the eastern African nations complete interconnection grids currently to form a regional power pool, according to Tanzania’s power utility.

A transmission line linking the central town of Iringa to Shinyanga in the north is about to be completed, before contractors start work on a final link to neighboring Kenya, Tanzania Electricity Supply Co. Managing Director Felichesmi Mramba said in an interview. The connection to Kenya will be completed by 2018, he said Wednesday by phone from the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

“In 2018, I should be able to get power from Ethiopia, but I know Ethiopia will be ready by 2019,” Mramba said. “We will start with 200 megawatts and then slowly will be increasing to 400 megawatts.”

Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia form part of a 12-nation Eastern Africa Power Pool that’s spending $1.6 billion over the next decade to link their grids, according to the EAPP’s 2014 master plan. Demand for power in the region is expected to more than double to 110 gigawatts in that period as populations grow and economic growth accelerates.

Ethiopia plans to raise almost $20 billion in private investment by the end of this decade as it looks to increase generation capacity four-fold to 20 gigawatts by building plants including the 6,000-megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Africa’s biggest, according to a June report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Kenya Electricity Generating Co., the nation’s biggest generator, is spending $8.1 billion by 2020 boosting capacity 45 percent to about 2,355 megawatts, while the country is also considering a nuclear-power plant.

Tripling Capacity

Tanzania expects to triple capacity to 5,000 megawatts within the next five years, from 1,357 megawatts, as consumption increases by 13 percent a year, according to Tanesco. Regional interconnections will improve energy security, Mramba said. The country has an estimated 57 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, part of which it plans to use for power generation.

Tanzania expects to advertise a tender “soon” for a 400-kilovolt inter-connector line from Iringa to neighboring Zambia, financed by the World Bank, Mramba said. Lower international steel prices have slashed the cost of the inter-connectors by half, according to the European Investment Bank, which is partly financing the Iringa-Shinyanga line.

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