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Reducing power poverty and increasing national energy security

Most Nile Basin countries are characterized by very low levels of access to electricity, and the lack of a fully connected or reliable regional power grid. This creates a real barrier to economic development. Without modern energy for basic needs like cooking and lighting, countries in power poverty typically experience constraints in income generation, and education and health services.

Nalubaale Owen falls dam
Owen Falls dam Jinja, Uganda

The case for trans-boundary approaches

Demand for energy in the Nile Basin countries is high and increasing rapidly. Projections for 2035 indicate an increase of 300% or more over present demand. Very large investments in power generation and transmission – in the range of tens of billions of dollars – are required for a sustained period to meet this demand. This is where trans- boundary approaches to agree and develop projects and to share costs and maximize benefits, can play a valuable role.

While possible transmission interconnections had been identified prior to the formation of NBI, some even decades earlier, Nile Basin countries lacked the mechanisms to jointly prepare and advance the infrastructure and policy environment needed for power trade.

NBI has identified and facilitated investment in power projects that bring clear mutual and sustainable benefits. Today, some of the most power-poor countries are pursuing power generation, connection, and trade projects.

Power projects, real results

The Ethiopia-Sudan interconnection commissioned in 2013 erected 296 km of line with a transmission capacity rating of 1200 MW. Through four interconnections, the project interconnecting the electric grids of the Nile Equatorial Lakes (NEL) countries will cover over 1,000 km, transmitted via 220 kV and 400 kV lines. Others are the Regional Rusumo Falls hydroelectric project which will generate 80 MW and add approximately 370 km of transmission infrastructure strengthening the existing interconnection system in Burundi and Rwanda, and linking it with Tanzania. On the other hand, the Uganda-DR Congo transmission line (353 km) will directly benefit at least 838,000 inhabitants in the three towns of Beni, Bunia and Butembo.

water resource development power
Power lines

 

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