East African news update – Electricity shortages hit everywhere


Drought conditions in parts of the East African region, poor maintenance and aged equipment and even non -payment of dues to independent power producers have taken their toll on the availability of electricity in the entire region, with ‘load shedding’ or power rationing the order of the day now in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

In Tanzania on Sunday evening the entire country was plunged into darkness, at the height of the country watching the football final of a regional cup competition, when disaster struck at one of the power plants, keeping the entire country in the dark until well after midnight. That, it must be mentioned, came on top of the 12 hours on and 12 hours off schedule most households in Tanzania are already restricted to.

In Kenya too power cuts have gotten more frequent again of late, and fellow Facebook friends write acid remarks on their walls about the power company being ‘powerless’, plus choice words not to be repeated here.

In Uganda, the shortage came about as a result of the independent power producers not being paid, and while parliament continues to ‘debate’, much of the country sits in regular darkness. At least the Ministry of Energy has prevailed upon fellow government institutions to increase the water outflow at the Jinja dam from the usual 800 CM per second to 1.000 CM per second, allowing a further 40 MW to be generated, lessening the daytime demand to a shortfall of only 10+ MW while in the evening the shortfall is now just over 100 MW, reducing the dreaded power cuts to less the previous frequency.

Long term weather forecasts in areas critical to feed water into the reservoirs of the hydro electric dams are also not encouraging for the time being, leaving the East African countries again to generate added demand through expensive thermal plants using heavy fuel oil and diesel, as a result of which power distributors are demanding yet higher tariffs from a population hit by food shortages and inflation like not seen for decades.

For the future impact of these developments, watch this space,