Power outages in the East African region is something that the governments in question have been working to reduce and even eradicate in the long run. Handling this problem will mean a definite increase in profits for manufacturing and processing firms as it will result in a decrease in operational costs such using fuel generated electricity.
Kigali for example, uses expensive fuel-generated electricity, which currently accounts for 40% of the country’s energy generation capacity, methane gas from Lake Kivu and small solar plants that feed into the national grid.
Pooling power resources is a viable alternative especially for Kigali which experiences the highest number of power outages in the entire EAC region. According to World Bank statistics the country records an average of 14 blackouts monthly.
The worst power shortages in the region begin in June, and worsen in August as water levels at the generation stations drop due to the dry spell experienced at this time of the year. Burundi and Tanzania both experience 12 blackouts while Uganda experiences 11. Kenya on the other hand experiences an average of 7 blackouts monthly. Translating to Kenya being the nation with the most effective hydroelectric power supply in the region
In Rwanda’s case, importing electricity would, therefore, scale down the heavy use of fuel-generated power. The country plans on importing at least 15MW from Uganda, 30MW from Kenya and an additional 400MW from Ethiopia.
Pooling of power resources has proven to be very effective for the Southern African region under Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).
East Africa’s efforts to share power resources will clearly come in handy for all the countries involved. More efforts should therefore be invested in ensuring the successful conclusion of this project as it will increase stability of electricity supply in the region.
Rwandan officials have said that contractors are yet to complete works on substations and high-voltage power lines that would facilitate the power trading plan, which is part of the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Projects. The three countries had proposed to start trading in power by 2015, then pushed the deadline to April 2016.
However, The Chief Executive of Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd, Mr. Erias Kiyemba shared that the project will not be completed on scheduled time as result of various challenges among them, delays by the contractor.
While Kigali has completed a high voltage — 220kv — interconnection electric grid transmission line to tap power from western Uganda, the Birembo/Shango sub-stations arestill behind schedule.
Power outages are very costly in terms of GDP output for African countries. Making the completion of this project of paramount importance.