Kenya’s power imports at 7-month low, output high

Kenya Power technicians

Kenya Power technicians carry out repairs on a transformer on Haile Selassie Road in Mombasa on December 5, 2020. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenya slashed its electricity imports from Uganda and Ethiopia to the lowest level in seven months in July after local generation surged to the highest level on record.

The latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the country imported 39.87 million units of power in July including 19.23 million units from Uganda and 20.64 million units from Ethiopia.

It is the lowest quantity of electricity the country imported since December last year when some 25.94 million units were bought from Uganda and 1.79 million from Ethiopia translating to a total of 27.73 million units. 

The July power imports were 20.7 per cent lower than the previous month, which was informed by significant jump in generation from local sources, which hit a record high of 1.158 billion units, according to the data.

Resumption of rains in March after a long drought spell, significantly increased water levels in local reservoirs, which pushed hydropower generation to 276 million units in July, the highest since May last year.

During the same month, wind generation hit 198.46 million units, which was the highest since January helping bolster local output.

As a result, despite power consumption hitting a record high during the month, the need for imports was lessened.

Kenya has a decades-old power exchange agreement with Uganda where the country with excess power supplies the other and at the end of the month, the nation which has made a net supply to the other bills for the power supplied.

Kenya in January started importing 200 megawatts (MW) of cheaper power from Ethiopia which has helped stabilise power supply.

This followed the signing of a power purchase agreement (PAA) between Kenya Power and Ethiopia’s State-owned utility Ethiopia Electric Power (EEP) in July last year.

According to the deal, Kenya will buy 200MW from Ethiopia in the first three years of the 25-year PPA after, which the capacity will be stepped up by 400MW.

Importance of the imports was laid bare last month when the country was plunged into a nationwide outage following loss of power supply from Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP).

It took days for normal supply to be restored to all parts of the country, a delay, which Kenya Power attributed to the fact that supply from Uganda was unavailable at the time.

The company said electricity from local hydropower generators takes a longer period as compared to electricity imported from the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited.

“We are jointly working on having the Uganda interconnector restored so as to enhance our grid recovery efforts,” Kenya Power said at the time.