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Transmission firm to roll out Sh123b project

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – Newly formed Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KENTRACO) plans to spend Sh123 billion in the next four to five years for the construction of new transmission lines.

The company’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Joel Kiilu told Capital Business that the lines which would run across the country and connected with others in the neighbouring countries will provide reinforcements to the current distribution network.

“We’ve got various lines that we want to come up with; one from Nairobi to Mombasa which we are about to tender for and some in Lesos that will strengthen our link with Uganda. We are also putting a major line from Rabai, Mombasa to Malindi, Garsen and Lamu,” he said.

Other lines will be constructed to link Kenya with Ethiopia and Tanzania to enable tapping of cheaper power from the neighbouring States.

The company was incorporated in December last year when the government decided to unbundle the transmission and distribution functions of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) into separate businesses.

KENTRACO is now mandated to improve transmission infrastructure – a move that is eventually meant to cushion customers against high power tariffs.

“The government has realised that there’s need for this country to have more transmission lines. For us to be able to spur economic growth, there has to be electricity in all parts of the country,” explained Mr Kiilu.

Electricity penetration in Kenya stands at a mere 10 percent making it one of the few countries in the world that have very low connection rates.

Senior officials of the Energy Ministry have in the past been quoted as saying that privatising parts of KPLC and KenGen was a mistake as this has not enabled the government to effectively fund the energy sector.

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But with the formation of this company, the government can now inject money directly into the firm to enable it effectively carry out its mandate.

“Investing in transmission lines is a very expensive venture and if KPLC has to do that then it means that the cost would have to be passed on to the customers,”  Mr Kiilu said adding that with the execution of these projects, more consumers would have access to affordable power connections.

The investments that the government has made are also expected to attract donors who would have to finance these projects.

The Transmission Company however lacks sufficient staff to fast track the initiatives and so it will have to work closely with KPLC which will assist them in capacity building.

“We signed an agreement with KPLC where they will also continue giving us some services which will require us to build capacity. We believe that within a year or two, we will be able to have our own capacity,” the CEO enthused.

Maintaining the lines for instance will be some of the services that the utility company will provide.

A board of directors has already been appointed and they are in the process of partitioning their new offices in Upper Hill where they will soon be moving to.

“Our board has already signed performance contract for this year with the government; we have got a budget so a lot of things are going on,” he said adding that the company has also received funds from several financiers.

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