TANESCO at centre of efforts to spread power supply across Africa

30Jan 2019
Financial Times
TANESCO at centre of efforts to spread power supply across Africa

Various power projects implemented by TANESCO are slowly placing Tanzania well within continental power trade plans.

Tanzania's power resources include hydro, natural gas, coal, uranium, wind, geothermal, biomass, solar, tidal and waves. In 2016, the country’s total grid installed capacity was 1,357.69 MW composed of hydro 566.79 MW (42 per cent), natural gas 607 MW (45 per cent) and liquid fuel 173.40 MW (13 per cent). File photo

The state-owned power utility firm is currently undertaking the Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnection Project (KTPIP) which enables the two countries to exchange electricity easily.

The project involves construction of a 400kV transmission line from Singida to Isinya in Kenya through Babati, Arusha and Namanga.

Kenya will also extend this transmission line to Ethiopia while Tanzania extends the same to Zambia, thus connecting East Africa to the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

The project is part of a grand plan to have a 400kV transmission line traversing across Africa from Cairo in Egypt to South Africa.

“This means that Tanzania can sell or buy electricity from any country connected to this transmission line. In case of shortages we can buy from our colleagues and if we have a power surplus we can sell to them,” explained Emmanuel Manirabona, TANESCO’s senior manager projects.

Speaking to journalists at Nanja village where the contractor undertaking the Babati-Isanya section of the project has established his camp, project coordinator Peter Kigadya said it adds to other plans being implemented by the power utility firm to strengthen power generation, transmission and distribution in the country and beyond.

“This section of the project is financed through a loan obtained from the Africa Development Bank and JICA. The project entails construction of a 510-kilometre transmission line from Singida to Isinya, and five 400kV substations.

Because part of this project is being undertaken in Kenya, we are working together with our counterparts from there, KETRACO,” Kigadya explained.

He said the project aims to increase and improve power supply in the country, as well as strengthen the institutional capacity of the East African Power Pool (EAPP) for regional power trade.

“The project will contribute to, one, improving power supply in both countries and the East Africa region in general; and two, reducing operational costs of energy production,” he elaborated.

He also said the project will help both countries to displace high-cost thermal energy production with cheaper hydropower, hence reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Kigadya, the interconnection starts at Isinya station, about 40 kilometres south of Nairobi, to Arusha. From Arusha, the line will connect with Singida through Babati.

“We are doing this as part of the Energy Sector Development Plan, which will enable interconnection with national power grids in Kenya in the north and Zambia in the south.

This will enable Tanzania to import significant amounts of cheap hydroelectricity in the short to medium-term from Ethiopia through the planned Ethiopia–Kenya interconnector, or from the Southern Africa Power Pool through the Zambia power connector,” he said.

He noted that in 2016, the Power System Master Plan (PSMP) considered six interconnection projects including the 400kV interconnector to Kenya which is currently being implemented and scheduled for operation in 2020.

Another one is the Tanzania–Zambia interconnection project currently on schedule for implementation starting financial year 2019 to enter into operation in 2022.

There is also a 200MW Masaka (Uganda)–Mwanza (Tanzania) interconnector; an interconnection with Mozambique; the Tanzania–Rwanda and Burundi interconnection through a 63MW hydropower plant project at the Rusumo border; and a 340MW hydropower plant project at the Songwe border involving both Tanzania and Malawi, which would enable the national power grids of the two countries to be connected in 2021.

This means that when the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project comes into operation in three years’ time and Tanzania finds itself with abundant power reserves, it can sell the same to any neighbouring country through these interconnections. Tanzania can also produce more power from other sources such as natural gas, geothermal and wind, and sell to needy countries.

“The Kenya–Tanzania interconnection project plays an important role in promoting regional integration through power trade… the power interconnection project is a win-win solution for both Kenya and Tanzania,” said Kigadya.

He said the 510km project has been divided into several lots with contractors conducting the work simultaneously to make sure that the entire project is completed by 2022/23.

In addition to the transmission line, the project also entails the building of modern sub-stations to ensure standardization and effectiveness of power transmission between the two countries.

“This project costs $258.82 million being a loan from AfDB and JICA,” he said.

Elaborating, he said lot number one of the project will involve construction of a 150km, 400kV double-circuit overhead transmission line between Singida and Babati, a work contracted to the Indian firm, Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited (KPTL) at a cost of $34.84 million and 17.982 billion/-.

“Lot number two entails construction of another 400kV transmission line between Babati and Arusha, covering distance of 150 kilometres. This work is being undertaken by Bouygues Energies & Services (BYES) of France at a cost of $36.89 million and 22.354 billion/-,” he added.