BY PAUL TENTENA
KAMPALA, UGANDA- A financers ‘conference for the 2,300km Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya (ZTK) power interconnector ended recently, where the three project countries presented their status of implementation report and financial requirements to potential funders to complete the remaining sections.
The ZTK is a$1.2 billion priority project of the tripartite group comprising COMESA, East Africa Community and Southern Africa Development Community as well as the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) under the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and the Africa Power Vision.
The project involves the construction of bidirectional high voltage power transmission lines and associated substations from Kabwe in Zambia through Tanzania and terminating at Isinya in Kenya. The European Union under the 10th European Development Fund provided the initial financing of 4.4 million Euros for the preparatory activities of the project.
The Kenya section is fully financed and already under construction. Zambia’s requires $160m for the uncommitted parts and is already in advanced discussions with some financiers for its remaining sections. The World Bank and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have expressed interest to finance the Zambian sections. Tanzania is also in discussion with the World Bank and the French Development Bank (AFD) for $425m financing for the remaining parts.
In 2014, Energy Ministers from the three States signed an Intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding which required that each country build infrastructure within its boundaries. Further, it required the countries have in place a Project Management Unit with Zambia undertaking the overall coordination. The countries were also required to establish trading mechanisms. The Ministers set December 2018 as the date of its commissioning.
The ZTK seeks to interconnect the three countries and create a link between the Southern African Power Pool and the East African Power Pool making it possible to transmit power from Cape to Cairo. Upon completion, the project is expected to enhance electricity trade, improve security of electricity supply and foster social-economic development and regional integration.
At the opening of the financiers’ conference, the Vice President of Zambia InongeWina said there could never be any meaningful development if African countries ignored investment in power generation. In a speech presented by the Minister in the office of the Vice President Sylvia Chalikosa, the Vice President said African countries should continue investing in power generation to promote development in the continent.
“This project will stimulate and support new investment in power generation, transmission, distribution and rural electrification infrastructure,” she said.
Zambia has constructed the first 400km 330 kv line from Pensulo to Kasama including the expansion of the substations which were commissioned in 2015, according to Zambia’s Energy Minister David Mabumba. In his statement at the Conference, the Minister urged cooperating partners to provide financing for the remaining sections in Zambia.
The NEPAD Head of Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Programme Symerre Grey Johnson said lack of electricity in Africa remains one of the biggest barriers to the continent’s economic development and prosperity.
Johnson who also represented the COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said Africa had immense green energy potential that could be economically exploited. Other speakers at the conference included the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet of Zambia, Mr. ChistopherMvunga and Mr. Henry Karanja representing the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Kenya.
Development partners supporting the ZTK project include the European Union, the Africa Development Bank, the World Bank and EU. Others are the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and European Investment Bank a(EIB), China’s First Overseas Infrastructure Development (COIDIC) and AgenceFrançaise de Développement (AFD).