The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) disclosed a substantial surge in Kenya’s electricity imports from neighboring nations in an economic report unveiled on Friday, reflecting a strategic response to the burgeoning demand for power in the country.
The KNBS report indicated that Kenya’s electricity imports experienced a remarkable increase, reaching 706.9 million kWh from Ethiopia and Uganda in the first 11 months of 2023, a sharp rise from the 288.27 million kWh recorded during a comparable period in 2022.
The lion’s share of these power imports, totaling 546.5 million kWh, was attributed to Ethiopia, signifying a notable shift in Kenya’s primary source of electricity within the region. Ethiopia has dethroned Uganda, which held the position of Kenya’s principal power supplier for an extended duration.
This shift in the power supply landscape can be traced back to the recent completion of the 500kV Ethiopia-Kenya interconnector line by the Kenya Energy Transmission Company (KETRACO). This transmission line now facilitates the import of cost-effective hydropower from Ethiopia, as reported by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).
The strategic significance of the Ethiopia-Kenya interconnector line extends beyond the national borders. It stands as a testament to Kenya’s commitment to regional cooperation, fostering increased power exchange within Eastern Africa. The line is positioned to underpin regional power trade, promoting a collaborative approach to address energy needs in the broader context of Eastern Africa.
As a consequence of this infrastructure development, Kenya anticipates a further escalation in power imports from Ethiopia, with a projected increase of 200 MW over the next three years. This upward trajectory is set to enhance the import capacity from Ethiopia to a substantial 400 MW, according to EPRA.
Kenya’s domestic power landscape, with an installed generation capacity of approximately 3,078 MW, faces a dynamic equilibrium. The total effective interconnected capacity hovers around 2,925 MW, reflecting the intricate interplay between generation, demand, and transmission infrastructure. EPRA highlights that the system peak demand averages 2,057 MW, while the average available capacity is 2,035 MW, necessitating the augmentation of domestic capacity through imports.