Kenya’s payment to Uganda for electricity imports more than tripled to Sh3.9 billion in the year to June, driven up by a fall from drought-hit hydroelectric generators and reduced geothermal output.
Kenya Power says it paid Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Sh3.9 billion during the period, up from Sh1.1 billion a year earlier.
Increased imports is the product of drought, which followed low rainfall during the March –June rainy season, left at least 1.3 million people in need of food aid and drove down water levels in dams and ultimately cut hydro power production.
Hydro power shortfall was plugged by increased intake of imports and expensive diesel-fired electricity, setting up Kenyans for higher bills.
“The imports were necessary to serve Western Kenya as drought took a toll on Sondu Miriu hydropower station that supplies the region,” said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
Hydro power sales dropped 11.7 per cent to 3.3 kilowatt hour (kWh) while geothermal was down 157 million units. This forced Kenya to increase imports 174 per cent to 184 million units.
Nairobi is now feeling the pain of a higher tariff thanks to a deal the two countries signed in 2014 that puts cross-border purchase of electricity at Sh21 per kWh, up from between Sh8 and Sh10.
Uganda is, however, gaining from higher tariff given its increased sales to Kenya, which three years ago hoped it would sell more electricity to Kampala.
At Sh21, Uganda power is seven times costlier than hydropower generated from Kenyan dams.
Kenya has a direct electricity transmission line connecting with Uganda via Tororo, enabling bulk power imports. Besides Uganda, Kenya also imports power from Ethiopia to feed Moyale town.