Lighting Up South Sudan’s Power Sector

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Read about South Sudan’s emerging power sector and more in the Africa Energy Series Special Report: South Sudan 2020 – the leading investor resource for tracking South Sudan’s current and future movements within the sector. Download the extended report and other AES Special Reports here.

South Sudan suffers from a debilitated power network. Already lacking in capacity before independence, the national grid suffered further damages during the civil war and today is very limited in its ability to distribute power.

The country has about 131.4MW of mostly diesel-based power generation capacity. From that, 42MW has been built in the Paloch petroleum field. Electricity demand in the country is estimated at 300MW, much higher
than current capacity. Pricing electricity has also been challenging. In 2014, the South Sudan Electricity Company (SSEC) changed the tariff system, which took the average rate from $0.22 per kWh to $0.36 per kWh. This adjustment’s main goal was to allow the business to run at break-even plus zero income. It did not function as anticipated; the South Sudanese currency began to lose value and the SSEC found itself unable to buy fuel and replacement parts. A review of the tariff system in 2017 raised the average cost to $0.43 per kWh, where it currently stands. Compared to most countries in the world, this tariff is high. Tariffs in neighboring Kenya and Uganda range between $0.24 per kWh to $0.35.

In 2018, South Sudan estimated the number of customers connected to the grid at 30,000, a miniscule share of the population. To address this issue, the government, through the Ministry of Energy and Dams, has sought out support to finance the expansion and improvement of the power network. The first success story emerging from those efforts came in the form of Juba’s new power generation plant, which was financed through a $290 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which South Sudan will pay over the course of 17 years.

The plant first started being built in 2017, under a public-private partnership (PPP) with the Ezra Group. The first phase of the plant came online in December 2019, adding 33-MW to the national grid and supplying power to 100 thousand households. Once fully operational, the facility will produce up to 100 MW of power.
The Ministry now intends to replicate the success of this PPP in other cities across the country. For the time being, however, the vast majority of South Sudanese people do not have access to the national grid, having to rely on diesel generators to access power.

The country also offers opportunities in renewable energy and the government has a plan to produce 10 to 40MW of power from renewable sources with the financial support of the AfDB.

Engage with the country’s power opportunities firsthand at South Sudan Oil & Power 2021 – the nation’s flagship energy conference that will dictate the future of investment and development in the country. Click here to register.

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Sihle Qekeleshe is a Web Editor at Energy Capital & Power. She has experience as a Copywriter and Editor in various industries.

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