Tanzania is set to complete a $455 million power transmission line in 2015 linking its power grid to Kenya and Zambia. Reuters Africa reports the Energy and Minerals Ministry saying, this is part of a strategy for Tanzania to export electricity powered by its gas and coal reserves to neighbours.

Tanzania, which has found commercial quantities of gas offshore and sits on big coal deposits, aims to double its generation capacity to 3 000 megawatts by 2016 to meet rising domestic demand and supply the region.

Power shortages are common across Africa and businesses often complain that poor or erratic supplies deter more investors and push up prices of local products, as many firms have to rely on costly generators when power is cut.

Known as the ‘backbone interconnector’, Tanzania's Energy Ministry said the $455 million link would be in place by April, one of several regional projects that include links running between Kenya and Ethiopia and between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Linking regional power grids

‘The backbone project will link with Kenya's northern power grid and Zambia's south-western power grid and transform Tanzania into a regional hub for the east and southern Africa power pool, the ministry said in a statement.

The 667km high voltage line is being built with financing from the European Investment Bank, World Bank, African Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund.

Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia signed a deal in Dar es Salaam on 30 September to link the three countries. Tanzania's Energy Ministry said last year it was in talks with Kenya to export 1 000 megawatts of electricity to east Africa's biggest economy.

Tanzania has 46.5 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves and is investing in a pipeline and new gas-fired power plants to boost generation. The country also has 5 billion tonnes of coal reserves and plans to build coal-fired power plants. It also aims to export gas with a planned build liquefied natural gas plant.