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AfDB Signs Loan For Hydropower "Electricity Highway"

The African Development Bank signed a loan agreement December 6 with the government of Kenya to finance a multinational electricity highway between Ethiopia and Kenya that will transfer power from hydroelectric facilities.

The US$115 million loan will finance the construction of about 1,068 km of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) 500-kV transmission line and associated AC/DC converter stations at substations in Ethiopia and Kenya. The HVDC line will have a power transfer capacity of up to 2,000 MW and will be commissioned in November 2017.

The loan agreement was signed by Gabriel Negatu, AfDB’s East Africa Regional Director, and Kenya’s Finance Minister Robinson Githae. Negatu says the “Energy Super Highway … will facilitate energy trading within the East Africa region. It is also the first step to enabling affordable energy from the region to be traded through the East Africa Power Pool, as far north as Egypt and as far south as SADC [Southern African Development Community] countries, by connecting with the "Southern Africa Power Pool."

AfDB says the demand for electricity in East Africa has steadily risen relative to supply, leading to occasional severe power shortages. The region is blessed with a great variety of natural resources, in particular hydropower, mainly concentrated in Ethiopia. The integration of the power systems of the Eastern Africa Power Pool will enable to development of Ethiopia’s large hydropower resources to enable export and address power shortages throughout the region.

These power pools are cooperatives working to establish a reliable power grid for the region and a common market for electricity.

Projects currently being considered for development in Ethiopia include: 6,800-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to be completed by 2017 and a multi-purpose water resource development in the Baro-Akobo-Sobat sub-basin that could include hydroelectric projects. 

In related news, Cable manufacturer Tratos Cavi Spa has been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to supply low- and high-voltage cable for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

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