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Govt signs power line deals to link western area, neighbours

11 March 2015, 12:00

Nairobi -  The government has signed deals worth 8.14 billion shillings ($89 million) to construct a 313-km high-voltage transmission line to connect geothermal power plants to its western region and help link the grid to neighbouring countries.

Kenyans suffer frequent blackouts because of supply shortfalls and ageing lines, while many in the country are not connected to the grid. Poor power supplies are seen as a hindrance to regional businesses.

A series of projects initiated by the state aim to improve power distribution and link Kenya's grid to its neighbours.

State-owned Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (KETRACO) said the project signed on Tuesday would link geothermal plants in the Rift Valley's Olkaria region to western Kenya by March 2017.

"This project will also serve as the backbone for regional power interconnection among the countries in the region," it said in a statement.

Read Also: MoneyGram reaches 25,000 locations across Africa

The project is being financed by the Kenyan government and Japan International Corporation Agency. The contracts went to groups that included firms from Japan, India and China.

New regional lines will provide links to Ethiopia, where huge dam projects will be generating cheap power for export, and will also connect Kenya to Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Kenya's government has said it aims to boost power production capacity by an extra 5,000 megawatts (MW) to the existing generation capacity of around 1,664 MW of by 2017, to meet growing demand.

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