Business / News
Friday, 24 Jun 2016 19:42 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is on a three-day state visit to Kenya, today visited Olkaria, the largest geothermal power plant in Africa. The Prime Minister is leading a delegation of senior officials from Ethiopia to the Kenya-Ethiopia Business Forum. The visit to Kenya by the Ethiopian Prime Minister comes hot on the heels of a State visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta to Ethiopia in March 2014.
Mr Desalegn said Kenya and Ethiopia are strategic partners and his visit will enhance bilateral economic cooperation between both countries, including trade relations.
“We are specifically keen on the energy sector where both governments have expressed desire to increase collaboration to steer economic development”, the Prime Minister said. I am impressed by the investment you have put in this plant, given that geothermal energy is clean, green and its carbon footprint on the environment is minimal," he added.
KenGen MD and CEO Eng. Albert Mugo hailed the PM’s tour of Olkaria, noting that energy-related projects were topped the agenda of the bilateral discussions, which also dwelt on the review of progress on the ongoing LAPSSET projects, among others.
“We appreciate the strong energy ties between Kenya and Ethiopia and are glad to host the Prime Minister at this plant that has catapulted our country to NO. 8 globally in geothermal production”, said Eng. Mugo.
In December 2015, at a function in Moyale, Uhuru and Hailemariam witnessed the signing of a Sh20 billion deal to end conflict along their common border and spur development. The two promised the deal would help create jobs, reduce poverty and foster trade in their restive borderlands.
The main economic focus of the deal is on developing the area’s untapped energy and mineral resources and meat and livestock trade to create jobs for youth.
In 2013, Ethiopia embarked on a project to export large amounts of clean power across East Africa. With an estimated potential capacity of 45,000 megawatts (MW) from hydro alone, the country is at the centre of an emerging electricity network across the region, driven largely by renewable energy. The Eastern Africa Power Pool aims to connect the power grids of at least nine countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Djibouti. It may also be extended to northern and southern Africa.
Also in the pipeline is the 500-kv transmission line connecting the Kenyan and Ethiopian grids, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2016 at a cost of up to $1.26 billion. It would make Kenya, which has the region’s largest industrial base, the largest buyer of Ethiopian power at an eventual 400 MW, and could allow Ethiopia to export up to 1,600 MW to countries further afield.