According to the Associated Press, Kenya suffered a nationwide power cut on Tuesday, May 28. Power failed in the east African country at 13:30 local time, or 05:30 EST. The power cut was caused by the failure of two transmission lines that are responsible for delivery of electricity from a geothermal power source.

Kenya

That failure, according to the country’s sole power provider Kenya Power, began a domino cascade that cut power across the entire country. According to the firm, power began to be restored at around 18:00 local time, giving the country’s citizens the ability to use electricity before darkness fell. According to a source from Kenya Power, 90 percent of the country’s electricity customers had their power restored by that time.

Kenya’s Blackout Scale

This isn’t the first time that Kenya has had problems with power supply, though the scale of today’s blackout was more significant than the country’s usual electricity problems. Kenya Power produces 1,250 megawatts of power, in a country that uses 1700 megawatts that means that backups and contingency plans are always a necessity in the country.

According to people on the ground in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, business owners and others were using diesel generators in the midst of the blackout, in order to make electricity available for necessary usage. Small electricity generators aren’t uncommon in a country that produces much less electricity than it uses.

According to Kenya Power, electricity is fed into Kenya from its neighbor Uganda, though that did little to stave off today’s problem. Electricity production problems are one of the major barriers to growth in an otherwise vibrant east African economy. Despite those problems, Kenya is still growing, and analysts are optimistic about the country’s future.

Economic Growth In Kenya

According to Reuters, economic growth in Kenya is set to hit 6 percent in 2013, beating the 4.6 percent the country grew by last year, and the 4.4 percent growth rate in 2011. Growth will not be helped by the constant power outages Kenya’s businesses suffer from, particularly if nationwide power outages become common.

Methods used for electricity generation in Kenya

Kenya uses several different methods of electricity generation, though the bulk of the country’s power comes from hydroelectric sources. The transmission lines that failed today were carrying electricity from a geothermal source, which uses the heat from the country’s geologically active Rift region to make electricity.