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Kenya unveils highest voltage transmission line in East Africa

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Kenya has unveiled the highest voltage transmission line in East Africa that would help in picking cheaper geothermal energy from power stations to feed Nairobi and neighbouring towns, the country’s electricity transmission company has announced.

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company(Ketraco) says the move will help avail reliable power electricity in Nairobi that has been hit by frequent outages in recent years.

The 400 kilovolt (kV) line will provide an alternative route for power from Okaria geothermal fields in Naivasha to Nairobi and other nearby towns.

The line is from Suswa to Athi River Substation through Isinya. The Suswa – Isinya transmission line (initially operated at 220kV) will provide alternative means of power supply to Athi River and its environs as well as address challenges of low voltage, high transmission losses, unreliable supply and network security.

This line will also provide reliable and stable power operations at the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Athi River, cement factories, steel companies and learning institutions in the area.

The scope of the transmission infrastructure energized includes construction of 102km double circuit transmission line that will evacuate Olkaria’s geothermal power through Suswa substation to Isinya substation.

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The Suswa – Isinya transmission line is part of the Nairobi Ring and Associated Substations project which also involves the construction of substations at Suswa, Isinya, Kimuka, Athi River and Komarock.
Speaking during the energization exercise, FCPA Fernandes Barasa, the Managing Director of the KETRACO highlighted that firms operating in Athi River area engaged in manufacturing and processing of garments, cotton yarn, human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, sisal dartboards, gemstones, computers, food processing, tanning products and construction can now enjoy reliable and stable geothermal power.

“In future the Suswa – Isinya transmission line will enable Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi to harness economic power surplus available in different countries throughout the year.

The highest voltage transmission line in East Africa will also act as a major connection point of the wind power from Turkana which upon termination at Suswa will be transmitted to Nairobi thus offering an alternative to hydro and geothermal power during peak demands.” Added FCPA Barasa.

The transmission line also carries a fiber optic cable from Suswa to Isinya and this will be joined to the Eastern Electricity Highway project (Ethiopia – Kenya interconnector) at Suswa substation, the Kenya – Tanzania interconnector at Isinya and the Olkaria – Lessos – Tororo transmission lines. This will be an additional connection to the marine cables for Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern Congo, thus providing secure redundancy in fiber optic communication.

The highest voltage transmission line in East Africa project was financed by the Government of Kenya, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) at total cost of Kshs. 10 billion.

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