M a r k e t N e w s

Kenya: Sh4 Billion Network Upgrade Planned As Power Lines Go Underground

Posted on : Tuesday, 2nd August 2016

Kenya Power is set to roll out a massive electricity grid modernisation plan in major towns to stabilise power supply as more customers are hooked to the main network.

An elaborate plan seen by the Nation will see the network within Nairobi and its outskirts taken underground.
The five year plan running until 2020, will cost Sh4 billion with Upper Hill and Westlands targeted as the city expands and overhead wires become hard to network.
The city, which is rapidly growing with tall buildings in the outskirts coming up, will consume Sh1 billion in the current financial year as Kenya Power moves to sink the high voltage wires.
The step is expected to improve stability and create order as underground cabling in towns are less prone to interferences compared to the traditional wires and poles.
"As the CBD moves into areas such as Upper Hill and Westlands, it is necessary that the distribution network in these be undergrounded so as to improve supply, quality and reliability," reads the strategy document.
The plan will also involve network reinforcement measures including upgrading faulty or overloaded transformers and adding new ones.
Nairobi has a large number of high voltage consumers mainly using electricity in industries.
Manufacturers at a recently held power summit at State House, Nairobi, blamed their failure to lower cost of products on frequent blackouts, which leave them with expensive diesel generators hence pass the extra cost to consumers.
According to the document already adopted by the utility provider, system audits are being carried out to identify weak points in Nairobi.
The firm recently announced investing Sh150 million to train technicians on a new power line maintenance technique that will allow repairs without interrupting supply.
Once rolled out, the technology will effectively deal with the frequent electricity outages occasioned by repairs, which require power lines to be switched off first.
The utility service provider is banking on such technologies and add-ons to its power supply to shore up revenues, as energy expansion remains one of the key reform agendas for the government while pressure to keep power tariffs down remains.
MPs recently made last-minute changes to the Energy Bill that will compel Kenya Power to pay consumers for power outages, especially those that last for over three hours within a day.
The government-owned firm will be required to issue an alert at least 24 hours before power supply is interrupted.
"The amount paid as compensation shall not be less than the amount the consumer would have paid the licensee for power consumed for the period during which there was a power outage," reads the amendment.
Kenyan homes and industries experience more than 600 hours of outages per annum compared to 120 hours or five days per year in South Africa, according to IEA's report titled Africa Energy Outlook 2014.

Source : allafrica.com
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