Regional power market on cards

The meeting of the technical and steering committees will bring together energy experts and industry players from the 10 Nile Basin countries and power utilities. The 10 riparian countries are Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Eritrea ‘ which opted for observer status ‘ Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Patrick Kahangire, the executive director of the Nile Basin Initiative, said: “We shall develop frameworks and agreements on power trade and also forecast demand in respective countries and the Nile Basin region as a whole.” The four-year Tanzania-based NBI project, currently in its first year of operation, is expected to identify hydropower generation and transmission projects but with focus on interconnectivity among countries. At a recent meeting in Entebbe, NBI officials said that the Norwegian and Swedish governments are providing the US$13 million budgeted for the project while countries benefiting will also contribute in kind. NBI says power accessibility is limited to only about 10 percent of the 300 million people living in the Nile Basin. Kahangire said logistical constraints can be mitigated under the programme, which is expected to expand the power market through regional trading. “A regional approach to increase power supply will be less expensive than independently extending national power transmission lines,” he said. The power trade project will be implemented through two semi-autonomous investment programmes where the Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Programme (ENSAP) consists of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme (NELSAP) includes Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Under NELSAP, a sectoral, social and environmental assessment for power development options has been done for Burundi, Rwanda and western Tanzania. The study will also help selection of other power investments in these and other countries. The study has listed projects in various locations to meet power demand for the next 15-20 years in the three countries. It has also recommended that the generation of power be done near borders whenever possible, so that consumers in neighbouring countries can access power through interconnectivity. For example, the Rusumo Falls’ 61MW hydropower project on River Kagera on the border between Rwanda and Tanzania, which is also close to Burundi, will benefit all the three countries through interconnectivity to facilitate a regional power trade. ‘

April 2006
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