Regional integration has been a significant driver of East Africa’s economic boom in the past decade. Keen to extend this synergy, Ethiopia and Rwanda have announced plans to trade electricity between themselves.
The two east African nations will extend the 1,068-kilometre transmission line to Rwanda for electricity export. This development comes on the heels of a recently erected transmission highway that connects Ethiopia and southern neighbour Kenya. “Ethiopia will share its hydro-electric power to Rwanda as soon as the transmission highway currently under construction from Wolayta to the East Africa Power Pool in Kenya is completed,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam remarked.
The 500 KV power transmission utility has a line transfer capacity of 2,000MW. Its completion date has been set at November 2017 at an estimated cost of about $1.2 billion. The current power sharing deal, signed by Ethiopia and Kenya in 2011, is such that Kenya will import 200 MW at 6 cents per kilowatt per hour in the first phase of the project and an additional 200 MW when all of Ethiopia’s power generation projects are completed.
Rwanda has a lot to gain from this deal. At present, the country only has about 153 MW of installed power generating capacity with some 16 percent of households connected to the country’s electricity grid. Although plans are in motion to increase its power generation capacity to 563MW by 2018, about 450MW will be purchased from neighbouring countries. “It is very simple to share Ethiopia’s electric power to Rwanda once we are connected to Kenya,” Hailemariam said.
The project will be partly financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is a co-sponsor of the project.
By Emmanuel Iruobe