Some US$1.26 billion has been secured for establishment of a 1,068 km high voltage transmission line with a capacity of 2,000 MW that will connect Ethiopia and Kenya. The plan is for Ethiopia to export power to Kenya, which has struggled to meet electricity demand.

The project is co-funded by the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the French Development Agency and the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments. The electricity will originate from a number of existing and planned power plants in Ethiopia.

As part of its plans to become a major power exporter Ethiopia is undertaking construction of a US$4.7 billion 6,000 MW hydroelectric facility on the Nile, which is set for completion in four years’ time. This is known as the Grand Renaissance project. Ethiopia currently exports up to 65 MW to Djibouti and about 100 MW to Sudan.

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for most of its water, has been unhappy about the 74 billion cubic metre Grand Renaissance dam, which Ethiopia says will take some five to six years to fill. Ethiopia maintains that the project will not cause significant harm to downstream countries.

A report on the project based on a hydrological study done by Ethiopia maintains that Egypt faces a 6% reduction in the electricity generating capacity of its High Aswan dam and no water loss if the reservoir is filled during years of average or high rainfall. However, if the reservoir were filled during a dry year it would significantly impact on water supply to Egypt and cause the loss of power generation at the High Aswan dam for extended periods.