Hydro Power

Hydro Power in Kenya

  • Kenya hydropower sector has been playing a key role in meeting energy demand as a renewable source of energy.
  • Since 1990s, hydropower has dominated over 70% of the total installed generation capacity and 80% of the total electricity generation.
  • However the sector has not been without challenges especially related to natural causes like drought.
  • The theoretical hydropower potential of Kenya is estimated at 6000 MW installed capacity or 30,000 GWh/year, while the technical potential is estimated at only 9,000 Gwh/year (2100 MW).
  • Small hydro potential is estimated at 3,000MW of which it is estimated that less than 30MW have been exploited and only 15MW supply the grid.
  • By June 2016 the total installed large hydropower capacity was 820 MW.


Number of installed MegaWatts

The Government is carrying out phased feasibility studies to establish the capacities of potential hydro power sites across the country. The Least Cost Power Development Plan has identified a number of sites where hydro power could be developed effectively.

Systems Installed MW
Tana 20
Kamburu 94.2
Gitaru 225
Kindaruma 72
Masinga 40
Kiambere 168
Turkwel 106
Systems Installed MW
Sondu Miriu 60
Sang’oro 21
Small Hydros 13.7
Imenti 0.3
Gikira Small Hydro 0.514
  • Installed MegaWatts
Total Installed Megawatts: 820MW

Large Hydro Power Plants

Project Commission Date Total installed capacity Max dam height Max operating levels Min operating levels Max storage level Area covered Other info
1 Masinga HPP 1981 40 MW 60m 1,056.5 m 1,031 m 1,560 mill. m³ 116.4 km² Useful vol.: 1,350 million m³
2 Kamburu 1976 94MW 52m 1,006.5 m 990 m 154 million m³ 14.3 km² Useful vol. 125 million m³). The reservoir operation follows the power generation needs
3 Gitaru 1978 225 MW 30.5 m 924.5 m 919.0 m 22 million m³ 18.6 km² Useful vol. 10.5 million m³. The highest peak was recorded in 2002 when the output was 222MW
4 Kindaruma 1968 72MW 28.7 m 780.5 m 776.8 m 7 million m³. Kindaruma Dam is located 5 km downstream of the Gitaru reservoir and is the oldest hydropower plant.
5 Kiambere 1988 164 MW 110 m 700 m 665 m 585 million m³ Useful vol. 477 million m³. The reservoir operation mainly follows the power generation needs.
6 Turkwel 1991 106 MW 153 m 1,150 m 1,098 m 1,645 billion m³ 66.1 km² Tallest dam in Kenya and is located in the Turkwel River in West Pokot County. Useful vol.: 1,531 billion m³
7 Sondu Miriu HPP 2008 60 MW Situated on the Sondu River. Relies on the flow of the river. The water intake passes a 6.2 km headrace tunnel to the Nyakach escarpment
8 Sang’oro HPP 2012 20 MW Comprises of two turbines. The plant provides annual energy of at least 53 GWh per year and a minimum available capacity of 12 MW (low hydrology).

Planned large hydropower schemes

Electricity generation by hydropower power is strongly affected by the prevailing hydrology. However, the advantage that they provide power at low operating costs. Large schemes with storage facilities are able to react very fast to variations in electricity demand caused by short ramp-up times and are thus very valuable for the provision of peak load capacity at low costs. In the long-term, there are several plans of developing large hydrological schemes, the majority of the projects are planned to be constructed as multipurpose scheme

Potential large hydropower projects

Name Capacity (MW) Catchment area
High Grand Falls Stage 1 500 Tana
High Grand Falls Stage 2 200 Tana
Karura 90 Tana
Arror 60 Rift Valley
Embobut 45 Rift Valley
Kimware 20 Rift Valley
Oletukat 36 Rift Valley
Leshota 54 Rift Valley
Oldorko 90 Rift Valley
Nandi Forest 50 Lake Victoria North
Hemsted Bridge 60 Lake Victoria North
Nzoia I 16 Lake Victoria North
Nzoia II 25 Lake Victoria North
Magwagwa 120 Lake Victoria South
Upgrade of Gogo Falls +58 Lake Victoria South
Munyu 40 Athi
Thwake 20 Athi
Total 1,484
  • MW

Small Hydro Power Plants

  • In 2016, the small hydro plants contributed 14.5 MW to the national grid.
  • The energy policy of 2004 defines small hydropower (SHP) as run-of-river power plants with installed capacities below 10 MW.
  • These are further broken down into small, micro or pico hydropower.
  • It is estimated that at least 3,000 MW of potential SHP capacity exists in Kenya. However, only approximately 32 MW is currently installed, representing 5 per cent of the total installed hydropower capacity in the country.
  • Existing SHP plants have varying ownership structures including private, community or public ownership models.
Plant name Owner /operator Commission
Sosiani HPP (Selby Falls) KenGen 1952 0.40
Sagana HPP KenGen 1954 1.50
Ndula HP KenGen
Mesco HPP KenGen 1930 0.38
Wanjii HPP KenGen 1952 7.40
Gogo HPP KenGen 1958 2.00
Imenti HPP KTDA 2009 0.90
Tana(1-6) KENGEN 1952-1956 12.8
Gikira Power Technology Solutions 2015 0.51
James Finlay (K) Ltd. HPP James Finlay Tea company 1934-1999 2.21
Brooke Bond HPP Unilever Tea Company 0.63
Savani HPP Eastern Produce 1927 0.10
Diguna HPP Missionary 1997 0.40
Tenwek HPP Tenwek Missionary Hospital 1987/2014 0.32
Mujwa HPP Missionary 0.07
Community MHPs Community 2002 0.02
Total 31.64

Number of installed MegaWatts

  • MW

Some Small Hydros

Mesco Power Station, 0.43MW
The station was commissioned in 1930’s, with an installed capacity of 0.38mw. The station draws water, for generation from Maragua River.


Ndula Power Station, 2 MW
The machines were commissioned in 1924, with an installed capacity of 2.0mw. The station draws water, for generation Thika River.


Gogo Power Station, 2MW
The station was commission in 1957 with the main reason being to supply power to the South Nyanza Mine at Macalder Mine .Findings of a feasibility study carried in 2002 indicate that the station has a maximum potential of up to 60MW peak operation.
Sosiani Power Station, 0.4 MW:
The station was commissioned in 1955. A small dam constructed on river Sosiani allows diversion of water to the plant. The total head to the Pelton Wheel Turbines is 135ft (41M).


Sagana Falls Power Station, 1.5MW
The machines were commissioned in 1956, with an installed capacity of 1.5 mw. The station draws water, for generation from Sagana River.


Wanjii Power Station, 7.4 MW
The station was commissioned between 1952 and 1954, with an installed capacity of 7.4 MW. The station draws water, for generation, from Mathioya and Maragua.

Planned small hydropower schemes

  • There is a large pipeline of small hydropower projects promoted under the Feed in Tarrif FiT scheme. Feasibility studies of twenty-one projects comprising a total capacity of 89 MW are already approved.
  • Power Purchase Agreement negotiations of 13 of these projects with a total capacity of 41 MW are completed successfully.
  • 7 projects with a total capacity of 24 MW are under construction and 1 project is already completed.
  • Furthermore, feasibility studies of additional 11 small hydropower projects comprising a total capacity of 76 MW are on-going.
  • The following table provides a brief overview of the various small hydropower plant projects.
Name Capacity
River Nearest urban centre
Unilever Tea Kenya Ltd. 3 Kerenge, Tagabi, Jamji Kericho
KTDA Ltd,Chania 1 Chania Mataara
GenPro-Teremi Falls 5 Teremi Falls Mt. Elgon
Gura (KTDA) 6 Gura Nyeri
KTDA Ltd, North Mathi-oya- Metumi 6 North Mathioya North Mu-ranga
KTDA Ltd, Lower Nyamindi 2 Nyamindi Nyamindi
KTDA Ltd, Iraru 2 Iraru Iraru
KTDA Ltd, South Maara 2 Mara South Mara
KTDA Ltd, Nyambunde 2 Nyambunde Nyambunde
KTDA Ltd, Lower Nyamindi 2 Lower Nyamindi Nyamindi
KTDA Ltd, Kipsonoi-Settet 4 Kipsonoi Kipsonoi
Tindinyo Falls Resort 2 Yala Tindinyo
Kleen Energy Limited 6 Rupingazi Embu
Mt Kenya Community Based Organisation 1 Kathita River Meru
Hydel 15 Kagumoine, Kairo, Njega Embu, Kirinyaga
KTDA Gucha 3.6 Gucha Gucha
KTDA Chemosit and Kiptiget 3.3 Chemosit, Kiptiget Kericho
Name Capacity
River Nearest urban centre
Global Sustainable 11 Yala, Kaptis Kai-mosi Kaimosi
KTDA Ltd. – Itare river 1.3 Itare Kabianga
KTDA Yurith/Chemosit 0.9 Yurith/Chemosit Cheptuyet
Que Energy/ western hydro 10 Webuye Falls Webuye
Global Sustainable Ltd 5 Nzoia Bungoma
Everest Contractors Ltd 16 Sagana Mutundu
Everest Contractors Ltd 10 Sagana Thanga Thini
Power Technologies 10 Tana Nuhito, Muku-rueni
KTDA River Rupangizi 2.5
Everest Contractors Ltd 12 Gura Othaya
Karuga Gitugi Electrifica-tion Project 2 South Mathioya Gitugi, Mu-ranga
Kirigori Electrification Project 3 South Mathioya Gitugi, Mu-ranga
KTDA 2.5 River Rupangizi Embu
VSHydro Kenya Ltd 5 River Chania Nyeri
VSHydro Kenya Ltd 5 River Nithi Nithi
Frozen Lemon Energy Ltd 2.6 River unywa, Mt Elgon Bungoma

Policy Framework

Feed in Tariff: The Feed in Tariff policy provides for stepped fixed tariffs for electrical energy supplied in bulk to the grid operator at the interconnection point.

The tariffs shall apply for 20 years from the date of the first commissioning of the small hydro power plant. The small hydros 0.5 MW is offered a tarrif of 0.105 US $ /kWh and 0.0825 US $ /kWh for 10 MW. This tariff also applies for projects with great than 10 MW and maximum cumulative capacity of 100MW.


All hydro power plant are requires to meet the standards stipulated by Kenya Bureau of Standards.  Some standards that relate electrical distribution and transmission of hydropower include;

KS 1878-1:2010: Electrical power transmission and distribution – Guidelines for the provision of electrical distribution networks in residential areas – Part 1: Planning and design of distribution systems.
KS 1859-3:2010: Electrical power transmission and distribution- High-voltage operating regulations – Part 3: Model regulations-Recommended model regulations relating to power systems for operating, access control and
KS 1068-5:2013: Electricity metering
KS 1068-4:2013: Electricity metering Part 4: code of practice for electricity metering
KS 1068-2:2013: Electricity Metering Part 2: Glossary of terms and overview of roles and responsibilities
KS 1917:2010: Electric power transmission and distribution – Energized power lines – Maintenance methods.
KEBS and Stakeholders are developing Small hydro standards for Kenya.


  • Small hydro Scoping Study Kenya : The objective of this scoping report is to provide the basis for understanding what the  potential for hydro power development is in the proximity of tea factories, the interest expressed by the tea companies, present electrical practices, potential for replication, potential for rural electrification, CO2 emission reduction and the existing know how and regulatory framework are for such projects to evolve.
  • Policy and regulatory framework conditions for small hydro power in Sub-Saharan Africa Discussion paper – June 2010: outlines the potential of Micro Hydro Power (MHP) and its current positioning in terms of existing and planned MHP projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a second step, the main barriers for MHP sector development are briefly described and wherever possible underlined with some examples from the field. For each main barrier, several potential and existing mitigating strategies are outlined and good practices are identified. The report concludes with some preliminary recommendations of how the gap between existing top-down regulation and regulatory needs of MHP projects can be overcome in order to deploy MHP in Sub-Saharan Africa on a larger scale.
  • Kenya National Hydropower Atlas: The objective of this project is to develop and established a national database and information retrieval system for the national hydropower development and undertake detailed feasibility studies for ten sites, which will have been selected using the instruments of the atlas.

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