East Africa must upgrade to ease power trade

Countries within the East African Power Pool must upgrade and harmonise their systems to allow electricity cross trading, said Uganda’s Energy State Minister, Simon D’Ujanga.

Speaking during the 26th steering committee meeting in Entebbe last week, D’Ujanga said there is need to upgrade and harmonise the national SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) of the East African Power Pool to allow regional commercialization of electricity.

“Upgrades of the national SCADA system [must be done] to ensure that individual national grids function as one on a common operational and commercial platform,” he said.

The SCADA is a network of linked connections through which power players in East Africa monitor other networks in real time.

According to Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), not much has been done in developing the system.

The East African Power Pool, Mr D’Ujanga said, seeks to build the institutional capacity within the next two years to ensure coordinated power supply across the region.

Under the East African Power Pool, electricity supply is interconnected in 11 countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Egypt and Ethiopia among others.

This seeks to ease trading of power to member states to mitigate challenges of power shortage.

Reporting on the progress of building the interconnecting lines, Mr D’ujanga said Uganda and Kenya were almost at 90 per cent.

“We have finished interconnecting with Rwanda. While we were interconnected with Kenya using a 132Kv line, we are upgrading to a 220kv line through Jinja to Malaba,” he said, adding Uganda had also acquired funds to uprgade a 132kv line to 400kv in Tanzana through Mwanza.

South Sudan will be connected through a 400kv line through Nimule to Juba and funds are being mobilised to connect Uganda to western DRC.

The entire process, on the side of Uganda, is expected to be complete in the next 15 years at an estimated cost of $3.5b.

According to Mr William Kiryahika, the UETCL chief executive officer, mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that power tariffs contribute to economic growth instead of the current retrogressive step-up.

Source: Monitor

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