On Tuesday, the Kenyan national electricity distributor, Kenya Power, launched a Sh13.2 billion ($123 million) project to lay underground cables in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.
The Daily Nation cited the utility who said that the implementation of its terrestrial network cabling in Nairobi is 20% complete.
The underground cables are envisioned to provide alternative power supply to existing power substations.
According to media, at present 22 kilometres of the planned 25.71 kilometres of 66kV transmission lines is complete, while installation works on the Likoni Road substation is finalised and pre-commissioning test is ongoing.
Addressing the media, Kenya Power acting CEO Ken Tarus said fibre network cables will also run along the underground cables to boost communication networks as well.
“There are so many challenges with power overhead, from competing need for space and many other interruptions including from trees which hinder our quality of supply.
“We may still encounter the challenges of wayleave acquisition but this is definitely going to make a quality boost for our increasing customer base,” Tarus said.
Media noted that the underground line will have a redundant network around the city to create flexibility of the existing system such that when one fails, it picks up to minimise power outages.
A new 220/66kV substation in the city centre and a 16.5 kilometre, 220kV underground cable will run from the Embakasi substation to the proposed city centre substation at a cost of Sh10.56 billion ($102 million) in the first phase of the project earlier planned to run until 2021.
Heavy infrastructure investments
Kenya Power, whose customer base has been expanding over the years, is faced with heavy infrastructure investments to meet supply adequacy and quality for the six million customers.
It is reported that the underground cabling project is funded by a twenty-year concessional loan from China Exim Bank and implemented by Chinese power equipment maker TBEA, with three local contractors Vodacom (K) Limited, H.K Builders and AKS subcontracted.
The move is reported to be part of a network modernisation plan, which also involves network reinforcement measures including upgrading faulty or overloaded transformers and adding new ones.