The East Africa nation has since secured US$240-million from the China Electric Power Equipment & Technology Company to finance the project, which will mainly involve the construction of 14 substations along the 472 km line.
Being implemented by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco), the project is expected to be completed in 28 months and will increase investment in the SGR line to date to US$4bn, making the project one of the largest infrastructure projects in Africa.
“Technically, the SGR line is ready for the upgrade because, though initially designed to feature diesel-powered locomotives, it allows for the addition of a single electric line that will be connected to Ketraco’s 400 kV Mombasa–Nairobi transmission line,” says Ketraco MD Fernandes Barasa.
The line, the longest and highest-voltage transmission infrastructure in East Africa, has a transfer capacity of 1 500 MW, which is only 200 MW shy of the current national demand of 1, 700 MW.
Kenya is banking on the SGR line to ensure it remains a regional transport hub serving the logistics needs of countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The line, which was commissioned in June last year, started hauling cargo in January, and it is hoped that it will rake in US$142-million in the first two years of operation.
The railway line is expected to handle increased trade between Kenya and other East African countries, considering that, by 2030, the Port of Mombasa will handle more than 30-million tonnes of cargo a year.
“This necessitates the electrification of the rail line, which is a requisite for the faster movement of bigger containers and passengers in the quest to boost East Africa’s competitiveness as an investment hub,” says Barasa.
By John Muchira