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Tuesday, October 14, 2014


 Kengen, the power generator, is on a roll and in a fix at the same time. This coming Friday, it has invited President Uhuru Kenyatta to commission the 140Mw power station it has done at Ol Karia IV. MD Albert Mugo says that as a result of the injection of the geothermal power into the national grid, the fuel cost charge on consumer electricity bills has fallen from Sh7.22 per Kilowatt Hour (Kwh) in July/August to 5.39/Kwh in September and 4.79/Kwh in October. With another 140Mw in Ol Karia I phase II coming online, this charge is expected to go down to about Sh3/Kwh. That will certainly be a relief.

Better yet, the wells drilled by Kengen in Ol Karia that were expected to yield 5 Megawatts equivalent ended up doing double that, around 13Mwe. One world record breaking well is doing 30Mwe.

What this means is that to generate the 280Mw this total project was meant to do, Kengen ended up doing fewer wells than initially projected. Keep in mind, some of these wells cost US$6million (Sh534million) to drill.

So instead of the US$1.2billion (Sh106billion) it would have spent, it ended up doing about $960 (Sh85.5billion) including drilling.

The decision has been made to use the savings and the generous steam, to do an additional 70Mw plant to bring the total to 350Mw (by far Africa's largest geothermal power plant).

Financiers are happy. Take JICA (Japanese International cooperation Agency). They funded Ol Karia I Phase II. The project has gone so well, they have come to Kengen wanting to fund Ol Karia V. Those talks are ongoing.

But therein also lies Kengen's dilemma. The company is highly leveraged.

Its current funding structure is approaching 70% debt and 30% shareholders contribution (equity).

It cannot accept JICA's money, as soft as the terms are, without increasing its shareholder's equity.

This is why Kengen is doing a rights issue. As the company is 30% owned by the government, it is waiting to get word back from Treasury as to whether they will take up their rights. It is expected they will. Since the rights issue is for Sh15billion, government will be expected to come up with Sh10.5billion and shareholders Sh4.5bn.

Institutional investors should be easy to bring on board.

Kengen's geothermal power plants have an Internal Rate of Return of about 12.5%, according to Mugo, the MD. This means they will repay the investment in 8 years or thereabouts.

Which is why it will develop Ol Karia 6 and 7 using a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Already two firms have approached it expressing interest.

The RFPs (Request for Proposals) for a transaction advisor will be opened tomorrow (Wednesday 15, October 2014).

The company will seek a partner with whom to set up a joint-venture using a Special Purpose Vehicle. The partner should be able to source for equity as well as the debt required to finance the project.

One key takeaway is the amount of experience Kengen has gained from handling such a project with so many different players and contracts to implement.

The power plants have been built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, the South Korean conglomerate.

The Turbines were supplied by Toshiba of Japan.

The substation and transmission lines were done by KEC International of India.

Sinopec of China did the steamfield development.

Development of the steamfield was financed by World Bank and KfW of Germany.

The consultant for the design of the project and supervision of implementation was SKM of New Zealand.

Financing of actual construction was by KfW.

Financing of the power plant was by European Investment Bank (EIB)and French Agency for Development (AfD) - not to be confused with its more commercial arm, Proparco which finances projects on more commercial terms.

The substation and transmission line were financed by EIB.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Pay-TV Zuku is emerging as the darling of Private Equity companies who have pumped in Sh11.6billion (US$130million) for its expansion across the continent.
Holding group Wananchi which owns Zuku said it raised the money from leading international cable companies, Altice and Liberty Global as well as PE firms ECP (Emerging Capital Partners) and Helios.
Zuku is targeting high-density population areas with its fast growing triple play service with emerging urban centres like Kitengela in its sights.
It also seeks to expand in the region including Ethiopia and in West Africa.
The firm has become a major player in the fixed line business providing telephony and internet services as well as pay TV.
Communications Authority (CA) places Zuku first in fixed internet at 44.7%. Liquid Telecom (formely KDN) 17.8%, Telkom Kenya (11.6%), AccessKenya (11.5%) and Safaricom 7.1% follow.
The triple play service has proved popular where it is available although this is restricted to certain areas as the company seeks to expand coverage.
The convenience of getting cable TV but also internet service has seen the company grow to 200,000 subscribers by its own statement, in the region.
The company's TV bouquets carry all the local channels, documentary channels like NatGeo Gold, Discovery Science and Europe based Viasta Explore and Viasat Crime. It also has 5 sports channels including Zuku live sports, Zuku sports, two Fox sports channels (for those who watch the NFL) and a Eurosport channel.
A ruling earlier this year is supposed to see rival Dstv that holds exclusive rights to English Premier League ganes share these lucrative rights with the likes of Zuku and Star Times.
The new round of fundraising is an endorsement about the upside potential of the business given the shareholders are all experienced players in the TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) space or in the African private equity space.
Liberty Global for example is the largest international cable company in the world. Altice SA is a multinational cable company present in France, Belgium, Israel, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland and the French West Indies.
Helios Capital, an African focused PE fund has made some shrewd investments in Kenya most notably in Equity Bank where it holds 24.45% of the bank valued at Sh50billion. It's initial investment was Sh11billion in 2007.
It is injecting $40million (Sh3.6bn) into Wananchi Group as part of the Sh11.6bn the company has raised to fund the expansion of its cable footprint.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


The left most row of pylons with power cables, is called the Nairobi North line. It carries power from Ol Karia geothermal fields up the escarpment through Ndenderu to Nairobi.

The centre row of pylons, is new. It is also supposed to bring power from new steam plants in Ol Karia IV and Ol Karia 1 phase II, a total of about 350Megawatts of power.

The row of pylons on the right, is the Loiyangalani line. It is supposed to bring power from the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, 430kilometres and deposit it at Suswa for onward redistribution.

The road shown is the Maai-Mahiu to Narok highway, the exact spot is at Suswa where the lines cross the road and onward to a massive substation coming up at Suswa.

Joining them will be another set of high-voltage carrying pylons this time coming from 1100Km away in Ethiopia where Kenya is purchasing 400Mw of power for itself and also wheeling in, 400Mw each for Tanzania and Rwanda.

From here they will drop at the Suswa substation currently under construction.

This will be one of the most crucial infrastructure installations in the country.

Shown here is just the 220Kv substation for receiving the current power that is coming from Ol Karia, as well as Loiyangalani.

Next to it, will be built a much bigger HVDC (high-voltage Direct Current) converter substation to bring in as much as 2000Mw from Ethiopia.

All this is just a small representation of Ketraco's (Kenya Electricity Transmission Company) ambitions to build an aerial empire.

It starts from modest beginnings.

The Nairobi North line shown above for instance is currently one of the most if not the most important power line in the country.

It goes down, we get almost national blackouts.

This represents the serious lack of investment in transmission lines in the country over the last 30 years.

Before the current network of pylons Ketraco is putting up, the Nairobi North line and the Turkwell line were the only transmission projects the country had invest in during that time.

The company has already doubled the length of transmission lines in the country and plans to have 10,000Km of lines by 2020.

Check the list below if the lines go through your village.

The Nairobi North line became crucial because it provided an alternative source of power from Ol Karia to the Seven Forks.

But all those power stations produce about 60Mw each from Masinga, to Kaburu, Kindaruma, Kambere and Gitaru.

For the reason that these stations are in Eastern Kenya, the Dandora substation in Nairobi where they bring their power has been the most important in the country.

Suswa is going to rival that.

The plants coming up at Ol Karia are at least 70Mw each and with Kengen putting up 5 of them, we are looking at 350Mw from the phase one project alone.

Phase II is meant to do 560Mw.

Geothermal Development Company meantime is doing about 400Mw and 800Mw at Menengai in phases I and II.

From the Suswa substation, power will be transmitted eastwards to Nairobi through the Nairobi North line but also through the Suswa-Isinya line.

At Isinya, another substation to receive this power and also from the high-voltage line from Mombasa is being put up.

Power from here will be sent eastwards to Athi River and Embakasi substation for distribution.

It will also head south to Tanzania where it will link up with the ZTK project (Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya) transmission project.

On the long neglected eastern side of Kenya, Lamu to Kitui is likely to see some of the biggest transmission works in the future.

The 900Mw coal power project at Lamu awarded to the Centum/Gulf Energy consortium will be linked through Kitui and into Nairobi East with another line extending to Wajir and beyond.

This project should be done in the next two years if the Centum/Gulf group under their AMU group deal with the petition by losing bidder HGIC.

At the same time, these substations at Suswa, Isinya, Embakasi, Dandora and so on form a ring around Nairobi that is supposed to stabilize the power supply in the commercial capital of Kenya.

Nairobitech will update as each of these projects come online.

Some notable projects completed or in progress include.

  1. Sondu - Kisumu line 50Km COMPLETE
  2. Rabai - Galu line 48Km COMPLETE
  3. Chemosit - Kisii line 62Km COMPLETE
  4. Kamburu - Meru lin 122Km COMPLETE
  5. Sangoro - Sondu line 5Km COMPLETE
  6. Mumias - Rangala line 34Km COMPLETE
  7. Mombasa - Nairobi line 482Km ONGOING
  8. Rabai - Malindi - Garsen - Lamu ONGOING
  9. ............................