Ethiopia exports electricity to Kenya amid Nile dam row
ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia has started exporting electricity to neighboring Kenya, even in the middle of a dispute on the regulation of the Renaissance Dam along the Blue Nile, which has triggered fallout in the Horn of Africa and the northern part of the continent.
For several months, both Egypt and Sudan have questioned the construction of the Nile dam which they insist will deprive them of essential resources given the low levels of The Nile which sustains the two nations through irrigation in crop production.
Ethiopian Electric Power said it has started exporting power to the East African nation which has been depending on internal production along the Tana River and importation of electricity from neighboring Uganda. Kenya has also turned to geothermal energy and wind power to sustain growing demands.
The $500 million line has the capacity to transmit 2,000 megawatts of electricity, potentially earning Ethiopia as much as $100 million annually. This will tremendously improve the economy of Ethiopia besides helping to service the loans used in building the mega-dam.
“Ethiopia has completed activities to ensure uninterrupted and reliable transmission of power and it is expected that similar activities will be implemented by the Kenyan side,” the company said in an emailed statement.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a giant hydro-power dam on a Nile River tributary, began generating electricity earlier this year, a project it sees as key to economic development but which has stirred tensions with downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan.
The $5 billion dam will be able to generate 5,150 megawatts of electricity once completed in 2024 and Ethiopia has signed supply agreements with Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Somaliland, Tanzania, and South Sudan. The Horn of Africa nation earned $95.4 million from electricity exports last year, according to EEP.
Ethiopia's fortunes come at the time the country signed a peace deal with Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] which would likely bring stability to the nation. TPLF has been fighting with the government for two years, which has sharply contributed to the dwindling of the country's economy.
Besides the mega electricity deal, Ethiopia has also been working closely with Kenya on matters of security, leading to the signing of an intelligence agreement between the two countries' spy agencies. Both Kenya and Ethiopia have pledged to fight Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants.