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Home >> Business
UPDATED: 16:05, March 17, 2006
Kenya set to import power from Zambia
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The Kenyan government is set to import electricity from Zambia to offset a shortage in power occasioned by insufficient rains.

Energy Minister Henry Obwocha was quoted by Friday's local media as saying the east African nation would be discussing with the Development Bank of South Africa on how to finance the project.

"We want to deal with this issue as soon as possible to end the frequent blackouts," Obwocha said during a workshop organized by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which discussed infrastructural projects in East Africa.

The minister said the country was currently using 950 megawatts (MW) of electricity to run industries and light homes, but requires at least 1,500 MW.

Last Friday, the minister ruled out power rationing, saying contingency measures have been put in place to ensure self sufficiency in electricity.

Obwocha said the east African nation will procure emergency power generators to cover an expected electricity supply shortfall brought on by declining water levels in the main power generation dams due to drought.

"We will not ration power but instead emergency power supply generators will be installed soon to increase electricity supply by 100 MW," said Obwocha last week.

Kenya is facing one of its worst droughts in recent years with millions facing hunger.

In addition to power produced locally, Kenya imports electricity from neighboring Uganda.

A senior Kenyan Ministry of Energy official said recently that he expects the electricity shortfall to vary between 87 MW to 177 MW between March 2006 and June 2007 if the long-rains season of March-May fails.

The expected fall in power supply and possibility of rationing have been cited by analysts as a major factor that has dampened economic growth prospects for 2006.

Kenya's neighbors are also facing power shortfalls with Uganda and Rwanda procuring emergency plants while Tanzania has announced plans to ration power following the devastating drought that has affected the sub-region.

The Kenya Meteorological Department announced last week that some water catchment areas will receive insufficient rainfall during the long rains season of March to May.

It its forecast for the next three months, MET said the current drought might drag on until December, forcing authorities to continue their humanitarian operations.

Kenya suffered serious power rationing in 2000 which severely undermined economic activity.

The bulk of Kenya's electricity is produced through hydro dams run by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company.

Hydro power generation accounted for about 53.5 percent by December 2005, followed by thermal at 28.6 percent and geothermal 17 percent.

Source: Xinhua

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