Kenya hit by nationwide power outage, sparking panic

NAIROBI, May 25, 2008 (AFP) – A nationwide power outage hit Kenya on Sunday as a result of a transmission fault from its hydro-electric plants, officials said, sparking panic in the east African nation. The hydro-electric plants’ owners, official power generator KenGen, produces about 80 percent of electricity consumed in the country, using hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind resources.

Millions of Kenyans suffered power-rationing blackouts in 2000 and 2001 after water levels at hydro-electric dams reached critically low levels.

The black-out started at 5:45 pm (1445 GMT) and affected operations in major hospitals, including the main Nairobi-based Kenyatta National Hospital and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Power began to be restored in phases after three hours, AFP correspondents and local media reported.

“A transmission system fault at Kamburu power station led to a shutdown of all power generators, resulting in power failure in many parts of the country,” government spokesman Alfred Mutua said in a statement.