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EU joins AfDB in operationalizing Nile Equatorial Lake Countries interconnection project


The African Development Bank announced on April 19, 2016 that it is helping operationalize studies financed by the European Union Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-AITF) which will provide professional advice on a project to connect electricity grids across five Nile Equatorial Lake countries.  AfDB is among the partners contributing to the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) Interconnection of Electric Grids Project, which aims to construct 927 kilometers of transmission lines and 17 associated substations in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda to improve the region’s access to affordable electricity.

The short-term studies are critical to ensuring and providing professional advice on the cross-border exchange of energy as well as on the safety, security and reliability of operating the interconnections as one integrated grid before the actual operationalization and commercialization of the project begins. The Interconnection of Electric Grids Project is currently under construction and various components are expected to be commissioned in 2016 and 2017.

Funds from the EU-AITF cover in particular the studies on “Operations and Commercialization Guidelines Development” and “Power System Analysis of the Interconnected Electric Grids System covering the Nile Equatorial Lakes Countries” being undertaken by Spanish firm AF Mercados EMI and Belgian firm Tractebel Engineering S.A., respectively.

Organized by NELSAP, the inception workshops were held from 5th to 7th April in Entebbe, Uganda. The workshops allowed the consulting firms to present findings and hold further consultations with representatives of the benefiting countries, as well as representatives of regional power initiatives, including the Eastern African Power Pool, East Africa Community, and Electricity of the Great Lakes.

The “Operations and Commercialization Guidelines Development” study focuses on the cross-border exchange of energy and the resulting regional electricity market. The study will develop guidelines and tools to facilitate energy trading, taking into consideration the existing status of electricity market liberalisation in the benefiting countries.

The “Power System Analysis” assesses current and future network behaviour of the planned interconnections and power generation plants in the region and will propose measures for optimal interconnected, synchronous operation of the NELSAP Interconnected Grid for the years 2016-2021. The study will provide information on the dynamic behaviour of the power system infrastructure when fully integrated into one system following a power system analysis to ensure stability, safety and security.

Funds for the project have been mobilized from the AfDB, European Union, Government of Germany/KfW (German Development Bank), Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Government of the Netherlands, and Swedish International Development Agency at a total cost of USD 415 million, including around USD 50 million in counter-funding from benefiting countries.  

The grid interconnection project includes the:

  • Uganda-Rwanda interconnection (172km at 220 kV) and associated substations;
  • Kenya-Uganda interconnection (260km at 400 kV and 220 kV) and associated substations;
  • Burundi, DRC and Rwanda interconnection (371km at 220 kV) and associated substations; and
  • Burundi-Rwanda Interconnection (143 km at 220kV) and associated substations.

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