By Helen Zulu -
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has continued to promote cooperation in regional interconnection of national electricity grids as it seeks to enhance competitiveness through regional integration.
Article 107 of the COMESA Treaty on Trade in Energy Services provides for member states to cooperate in interconnection of national electricity grids.
Interconnection of national power networks is one strategy through which regional competitiveness can be achieved.
Interconnecting regional power networks has the potential of not only boosting regional and national power security of supply, but also reduce the actual cost of power supply within member countries.
There are several interconnection projects both at planning stage and under implementation at regional level.
These include the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) Project, Ethiopia-Kenya Power Interconnector Project, Malawi-Zambia Interconnector, Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana-Namibia (ZIZABONA) project and the Kenya-Uganda-Rwanda Interconnector.
Others are Rwanda-Burundi-DRC, Ethiopia-South Sudan power interconnector project, Uganda (Olwiyo) –South Sudan (Juba) and Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector project.
This feature therefore, seeks to explore the ZTK Power Interconnection Project and the current status of implementation.
The project aims to connect the three countries’ electricity grids and create a link between the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the East African Power Pool (EAPP), making it possible to transmit power from Cape to Cairo.
According to a report issued by ministers of infrastructure responsible for transport, energy and Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the COMESA region, progress has been made on the project in different sections of the three countries.
The report states that progress has been made including the conclusion of the complementary market study, which is looking at the potential trading volumes and impact of the interconnection on the regional power networks.
The report further notes that remarkable progress has been made in the different sections in the three countries, and that some sections have already been implemented while others work is in progress regarding implementation.
The final draft of the Feasibility study and Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Mbeya – Tunduma (Tanzania) to Nakonde – Kasama – Pensulo -Kabwe (Zambia) section were presented in Arusha, Tanzania from August 21-23, 2017 and the final report is expected this month.
A conceptual design of the interconnector would be done and the final design is expected by November 15, 2017.
“Following the completion of the feasibility study, a financiers conference has been planned for November 7- 8 2017 in Livingstone, to raise financing for the remaining sections of the project,” the report states.
The project will link the North South Corridor, making it possible for power trade between the East African Power Pool and the Southern African Power Pool.
The ZTK market study which was completed in December 2016, estimates that the link will make it possible to transfer as much as 600 Mega Watts (MW) of power from Ethiopia, through Kenya to Tanzania and Zambia in the short-term and vice versa in the long-term.
Power interconnections make huge projects viable by providing regional markets for the produced power.
The report recommends that the member States should fast track the implementation of power interconnectors to increase power trade in the region to enhance energy security, reliability, affordability and accessibility.
This should be done with the aim to enhance the COMESA integration agenda provided that cooperation and regional integration should be based on win-win and no harm principle.
There should also be consideration of other objectives in accordance with the inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2005 by all Member States involved in the trans-boundary development projects.
Energy Minister David Mabumba explains that Zambia is excited to be part of the countries which are implementing the ZTK power interconnector to network power supply in the region and beyond.
He says this will ensure that countries with surplus power supply can freely export to deficit countries from Cape to Cairo.
“The interconnections have gone very far, feasibility studies are almost over and for your own information certain segments of the interconnection have been done.
“In Tanzania they have done everything except some sections from Iringa into the Tunduma area but they are moving ahead in sealing the deal with the financers and contractors,” he says.
Mr Mabumba says the same applies to Zambia, from Kasama to Tunduma, the works are not done yet .
The ZTK interconnection project will improve the quality of power to Northern Zambia via Kasama and Western Tanzania through Sumbawanga.
It will also reinforce the national grid in Tanzania and make Tanzania an operating/trading member of the SAPP while assisting Kenya in diversifying fuel sources for generation.
The project will promote and stimulate the development of new power generation projects and electricity export potential.
Such regional interventions are what the economic block requires at the time that most member countries are faced with power shortages.