Blackout grips Kenya with power grid failure


Kenya's first wind farm, on the Ngong Hills, outside Nairobi. It is due to start supplying electricity to the national grid in August. (Tugela Ridley/GlobalPost)


Tugela Ridley

Kenya completely lost power on Tuesday due to a grid failure, according to Kenya's Capital Reporter

Power outages are relatively common in Kenya, but a national blackout? Not so much. 

“Kenya Power engineers immediately commenced a ‘blackstart’ with electricity supplied from Uganda to Sondu Miriu power station,” national provider Kenya Power said in a Tuesday statement, according to the Capital Reporter

Kenya Power provides its two million customers with 1,250 megawatts of power using a national grid mostly powered by hydro stations operated by KenGen, according to Reuters, noting that demand is actually 1,700 megawatts.

So what happens is, not everyone gets power all the time. But nobody got it on Tuesday due to a reportedly dominoes-like situation among power operators there. 

“At around 1.30 p.m. this afternoon, the two transmission lines between the Olkaria geothermal load center and Ndenderu sub-station near Nairobi tripped, while they were carrying 400 megawatts of electricity,” Kenya Power told Bloomberg by email. “Subsequently, the national interconnected grid and generating system also tripped, causing a national power outage.”

Most of Kenya's electricity (60 percent) comes from hydropower, 30 from geothermal generators and 25 percent from diesel generators, according to Capital Reporter, describing a "persistent urge for Kenya to consider wind power as opposed to over-reliance on hydro energy."