23 July 2012 – The World Bank board of executive directors’ approval of the Eastern Electricity Highway Project marks the first phase of a US$1.3 billion power integration program in east Africa. The project will connect electrical grids between Ethiopia and Kenya, create power-sharing between the two countries, reduce energy costs, and pave the way for more dynamic regional cooperation between the countries of east Africa, the World Bank says.
The World Bank financing of US$243 million for Ethiopia and US$441 million for Kenya will come from the International Development Association, the bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries. The bank says Ethiopia will benefit through the sale of energy to Kenya, which faces severe power shortage. Both countries would benefit from additional jobs created by construction and installation activities.

Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for the Africa region, says the landmark transformational project will change the fundamentals of the power sector in east Africa and expand access and lower the cost of electricity supply to homes and businesses across Kenya.

The approval of the east Africa electricity highway project is anchored in a World Bank regional strategy for Africa which aims at promoting greater investment, boosting economic growth and reducing poverty. In 2011, World Bank helped to provide electricity to additional 1.4 million people in African countries.