NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – Residents of Northern Kenya can finally breathe free following the connection of the region to the country’s power grid after the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO) energized its Garissa sub-station.
At a cost of Sh826.6 million, the project was funded by the World Bank and is part of the Kindaruma-Mwingi-Garissa project which was officially launched in 2014.
According to KETRACO, the energization will open the region to economic opportunities that include setting up of slaughter houses and processing factories.
“Animals and animal products will be processed within the county, refrigerated and supplied to other parts of the country rather than transporting livestock to Nairobi for slaughter,” said KETRACO in a statement.
But that’s not all.
The sub-station will also translate to open doors for investors from all over the world.
“Garissa substation is very important because high voltage power, which is efficient, reliable and quality power, also means that industries and factories should now operate with minimum disruptions. The benefits go beyond the large factories. Even the small mwananchi can now put up salons and barber shops, bakeries and alike due to the power we will transmit. Garissa town should be the business hub of Northern Kenya,” KETRACO Managing Director FCPA Fernandes Barasa said.
This energization of the Garissa 132/11kV and 132/33kV transformers and bay equipment comes after years of the county relying on diesel generators.
The 132kV which is 234km long also comprises of a substation in Mwingi, which was energized in December last year, and the Kindaruma sub-station which underwent extension works to accommodate the off-take of generated electricity.
According to KETRACO, Mwingi is already enjoying reduced power outages.
The project is also an answered prayer as far as cost is concerned. For instance, diesel powered generators which are popularly used, produce less than 10MW while the capacity for the new transmission line is 80MW, translating to eight times the current supply.
KETRACO says the cost of thermal (diesel) power is Sh20 per kWh. “This is quite costly when compared to Sh3 per kWh for hydro-power, the cheapest power, which will be transmitted from Kindaruma Dam, through Mwingi, to North Eastern.”
KETRACO at the same time projects that the new power hub will in the near future benefit from the setup of solar and wind power plants. It also plans to have the region connected onwards to Wajir and from Garsen.
“Garsen substation is part of the Rabai-Malindi-Garsen-Lamu transmission line, a project that the company also plans to commission later in the month. This project brings power to Lamu, and the LAPSETT port, also putting an end to the reliance of generators in the Coastal region.”
“We are currently implementing a number of high priority projects totalling about 5,000km of transmission lines and regional power interconnectors of different voltage levels expected to be completed in the next three to four years. These transmission infrastructure projects will facilitate electricity evacuation from generating stations, reinforce the grid network for increased capacity, reliability and provide redundancy,” said the company.