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Ruto approves Sh66B project to solve frequent power outages

President Ruto emphasized the need for a strategic approach to address overloading issues in the transmission lines, which often lead to disruptions in power supply.

President William Ruto during a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi on October 3, 2023

In a decisive move to address the persistent issue of power failures that have been hampering Kenya's investment landscape, President William Ruto, during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, directed the Ministry of Energy to take comprehensive measures.

The president expressed concern that frequent power outages were negatively impacting Kenya's investment profile, prompting the Cabinet to engage in extensive discussions on the matter.

Cabinet approved the unbundling of the transmission line system to prevent power failures in one region from affecting the entire country.

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President Ruto emphasized the need for a strategic approach to address overloading issues in the transmission lines, which often lead to disruptions in power supply.

To tackle the longstanding challenge, the Cabinet announced the allocation of €400 million (Sh66 billion) from the African Development Bank for the construction of the Bomet-Narok transmission line.

Notably, this project, initially funded in 2016, faced delays due to legal disputes.

The newly approved funding aims to revive the project and enhance the reliability of Kenya's power infrastructure.

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Addressing the issue of overloading and providing an additional safeguard against power failures, the Cabinet highlighted a €1.2 billion (Sh200 billion) KenGen solar power project at the Seven Forks Dam.

The 42MW project, equipped with a substantial battery storage capacity, is designed to kick in during power failures, ensuring a continuous and stable power supply.

The solar project is also expected to play a crucial role in preserving hydro-power at the five dams that constitute the Seven Forks, contributing to the overall energy resilience of the nation.

This strategic move by the Kenyan government demonstrates a commitment to addressing the root causes of power failures and boosting investor confidence.

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The comprehensive approach, combining the unbundling of transmission lines and strategic investments in new projects, aims to create a more reliable and resilient power infrastructure.

The Ministry of Energy has been under pressure following frequent blackouts around the country.

Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir held a press briefing on Monday, December 11, addressing the recent power blackout that affected various parts of the country.

Chirchir revealed that the blackout was caused by a sudden increase in power flow along the Juja-Lessos-Muhoroni link, leading to an overload at Olkaria 2 transformers and the Dandora-Juja transmission link, resulting in dropped powerlines and the subsequent blackout.

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The recent blackout, the fifth this year, has raised concerns among the public about the recurring power outages and the measures being taken to address the issue.

Chirchir pointed out two main challenges affecting electricity production – insufficient water for power generation and transition constraints due to limited investments in network building.

To alleviate these challenges, Chirchir announced plans for a new substation and a 90km line to relieve capacity on the Muhoroni-Kisumu line.

He emphasised the need for a new 33KV line between Narok and Bomet to prevent constant power outages.

The project aims to reduce overload on existing lines and prevent widespread blackouts.

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"We will build a new 33KV line between Narok and Bomet to prevent constant power outages. We will have a reduced overload line to prevent plunging the country into darkness," Chirchir stated during the briefing.

The new line, expected to take 20 months to complete, will be funded by the African Development Bank and Japan.

Chirchir also highlighted the lack of major electricity system upgrades in the country for the past six years.

The press briefing aimed to provide transparency on the causes of the blackout and the government's commitment to addressing the challenges in the power sector.

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