Ethiopia and Kenya are constructing the first HVDC transmission line in East Africa with the support of a range of development finance institutions (DFIs).
The US$1 billion project is known as the Eastern Electric Highway Project and is being developed under the First Phase of the Eastern Africa Power Integration Programme.
The African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (AFD), the World Bank and the Kenyan government are financing the project, which includes a US$629 million separate converter station that is being built by Siemens.
The transmission of electricity, most of which will be generated in Ethiopia, is scheduled to begin in June 2019.
The cable will have a capacity of 500-kV DC and run for 1,044 km , 433 km of which will be in Ethiopia.
The project began in 2006 with a memorandum of understanding signed between Addis Ababa and Nairobi.
As well as Siemans, India’s KEC International, Larsen and Toubro and Kalpataru Transmission are building the power line under the supervision of China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited.
“Upon its completion, the project is expected to generate investment opportunities in electricity infrastructure and also give rise to development of other related industries,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity said in a statement.
Ethiopia is developing its huge hydro power potential with a series of dams on its rivers, including the massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, and intends to become a major electricity exporter in the region.
The cable is viewed as an important piece of infrastructure for the country and for Kenya as it is expected to encourage the development of industries along the route.
Ethiopia is estimated to have the potential to generate up to 45,000 NW, most through hydro resources.
Meanwhile, Kenya is in the process of boosting generating capacity, with KenGen set to open 720 MW of new projects by 2020.
In the longer term, by 2028 Kenya aims to open 2,029 MW of geothermal capacity, 410 MW of wind, 90 MW of hydro and 40 MW of solar PV.