Why Kenya must join Energy Charter Treaty

Securing finance for large-scale renewable energy projects in East Africa is a major obstacle. FILE PHOTO | NMG Kenya has huge and growing energy needs. Among the power strategies Kenya is implementing is an aggressive last mile connectivity campaign for electricity, which aims to connect 300,000 non-commercial households located within 600 metres of a transformer, in a bid to enure universal access to electricity by the year 2020.

Kenya’s primary source of energy is mostly from hydro (40 percent) and geothermal (49 percent) sources. Kenya continues to develop renewable energy sources for her growing needs, and the Turkana Wind Farm (310 MW) is poised to be the biggest wind farm in Africa. Kenya also hosts the region’s largest solar facility in Garissa with 55MW.

This huge deficit of energy is replicated across East Africa. Tanzania has major sources of power in natural gas, petroleum and hydropower. More than 85 percent of Tanzania’s population uses traditional fuels for domestic use. However, abundant natural gas reserves, wind and solar resources present opportunities for boosting connectivity through investment in electricity generation.

Similarly, Uganda is endowed with renewable energy sources particularly hydro, biomass, and solar. Biomass acounts for 94 percent of the country’s energy consumption, followed by hydroelectric. The country is considered to have enormous hydro potential, estimated at 2,000MW.

Cross-border electricity trade has become increasingly important for energy security and resilience, since it is a result of access to a diversified basket of power sources and suppy. Climate change poses threats towards power generation, especially for countries that are dependent on hydropower.

That is why the East African Power Pool (EAPP) came into being, bringing together the nine countries of Kenya, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Libya and Uganda. South Sudan and Djibouti also aim to join and are included in the Regional Master Plan Study. Through economies of scale, these countries will be able to reduce costs associated with power generation and transmission, improve power supply, and attract investment in the region. The regional Power System Master Plan and Grid Code Study for the Eastern Africa Power Pool shows that countries in the sub-region have been planning and implementing their power systems in an isolated mannner, focussed sorely on the national demand for growth.

While bilateral power exchange agreements between some countries in the sub-region exist, the volume exchanged is insignificant. Moreover, exporting countries have frequently failed to meet their commitments to deliver […]

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