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Following a seven-year-long civil war, the Republic of South Sudan is aiming to revitalize its energy infrastructure and develop a more reliable power system. With just 1% of the country’s population currently connected to the national grid, South Sudan has prioritized the development of key energy projects, backed by both development banks and global companies, to upgrade its oil-fired power plants while keeping a close eye on ensuring renewable energy investment.
With a peace deal having been inked between South Sudan’s President, H.E. Salva Kiir, and the First Vice President, H.E. Riek Machar in 2018, work to restore the country’s energy sector has since seen good progress. The country’s public utility, the South Sudan Electricity Corporation (SSEC), started operating the first section of the capital city of Juba’s rehabilitated distribution network in November 2019. Replacing Juba’s 11 kV power lines, the government of South Sudan, has also rolled-out a network of 33 kV lines to connect an additional 20,000 local consumers in Juba.
As a member of the Eastern Africa Power Pool – a collaborative effort by 13 east African countries to interconnect their power grids and facilitate efficient trade of electricity among its member states – South Sudan will benefit from co-member Ethiopia’s diversified, off-grid power systems. Ethiopia is currently targeting an electricity transmission and distribution capacity of more than 70,000 GW, offering scope to supply much-needed electricity to South Sudan, whose electrification rates are amongst the lowest on the African continent.
Following a meeting between a delegation from South Sudan’s Ministry of Energy and Dams, led by H.E. Minister Peter Marcello and state-owned electric producer, Ethiopian Electric Power, the two countries formally targeted regional energy cooperation, with specifics outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). In this regard, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, will export 100 MW of electric power to South Sudan over three years.
There are additional plans in place to gradually increase the export amount to 400 MW, thereafter. Furthermore, the MoU details the first step of the power purchase plan which will entail a feasibility study conducted by South Sudan and Ethiopia over the next year. Within two years of the feasibility studies’ conclusion, South Sudan and Ethiopia will then move to construct a 357 km, 230 kV transmission line connecting Ethiopia’s Gambella region to the Malakal region in South Sudan, as well as another 700 km line connecting the town of Tepi in southern Ethiopia to Juba.
Meanwhile, with an installed capacity of approximately 130 MW, the majority of which is used to supply power to the country’s extensive oil fields, South Sudan is currently evaluating ways to meet its power demand of 300 MW by way of renewable energy prospects. The state-utility company has already completed technical evaluations in this regard for the development of a 20 MW solar farm and 35 MWh battery storage system, together with a 120 MW hydropower project, near the country’s capital city.
Dedicated to renewed engagement with international oil companies, the government of South Sudan, represented specifically by the Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Energy and Dams, and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, are set to participate in this year’s edition of the South Sudan Oil and Power Conference – the premier international forum dedicated to driving business and investment into east Africa’s only major oil producer.
Serving as the official meeting place for the oil, gas, and power industries of South Sudan, the event will emphasize the pivotal role that energy companies play in the growth of the country’s economy. The event will see engagement with some of the world’s leading international oil companies by key government decision-makers, to drive the exploration and development of South Sudan’s oil and gas acreage, while positioning the country as a bright oil and gas prospect on the African continent.