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The World Bank (WB) approved the eagerly awaited USD 684 million loan for the Ethio-Kenya transmission line project (Eastern Electricity Highway Project) last week despite protests by some international organizations.
The WB’s board of executive directors gave the final approval on Thursday July 13 for the specific project that will connect Ethiopia’s electric grid with its neighbour, allowing for electricity export to Kenya by 2016 from electric projects that are being constructed in several parts of Ethiopia.
According to the bank’s statement, together with the two countries, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the French Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), the project will have a new cross-border power line, to be built according to strong social and environmental safeguards that will allow Ethiopia to sell its surplus power to Kenya and reduce the need for polluting thermal power in Kenya.
“When required, the flow of electricity can be reversed and Kenya would thus use the same interconnection facilities to sell electricity to Ethiopia,” the bank said.
The Ethio-Kenya High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) power line will have a 400 kV double circuit. The World Bank loan will be to both governments; USD 243 million for Ethiopia and USD 441 million for Kenya.
The total length of the transmission line is approximately 1045Km, out of which some 433Km will be in Ethiopia and 612Km in Kenya.
The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), the state power utility, has planned to complete by September 2013, a high voltage transmission line near the Gibe III hydro power station, which is currently under construction.
Ethiopia is preparing to sell up to 1,000 mega watts of power to Kenya when all of its new power projects are completed.
The WB statement indicated that the new project marks the first phase of a regional East African power integration program which is likely to cost USD 1.3 billion at completion, eventually benefiting 212 million people living in five countries with a combined GDP of USD 107 billion.
Ethiopia is currently exporting electricity to Djibouti and border towns of Kenya and Somaliland. The transmission line project that connects Sudan with Ethiopia has almost been finalised to export the Ethiopian renewable energy for the oil producer country. Recently, the newly independent country, South Sudan has also signed agreement with EEPCo to get power from Ethiopia in the coming years.