South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has launched a newly built 100-megawatts (MW) power plant that will supply the first phase of electricity to the capital Juba and other surrounding areas.
Kiir said on Thursday the power plant built by Ezra Company Limited since November 2017, will help the world’s youngest nation to embark on post-conflict recovery after more than five years of conflict.
“This project marks a major milestone for the Ministry of Energy and Dams and the nation at large. More important it is hoped for us as people that our dreams will not just remain dreams but will become a reality. This project will spur development across the (economic) sectors,” Kiir said.
The power plant will supply 33 MW of electricity in the first phase before completion of the entire project by 2021.
He said that the power sector was ruined in the wake of the outbreak of the December 2013 conflict which also devastated the economy after halting oil production leading to hyperinflation.
“During the 2013 crisis, the government-owned power stations were all shut down due to operational challenges. The government took tangible steps to address the dire situation and decided to involve the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the private sector in efforts not only to revive the sector but also to achieve stability,” said Kiir.
South Sudan has one of the lowest electricity access with over 90 percent of its 12 million population lacking access to electricity.
Kiir said that more than 70 percent of businesses in South Sudan depend on diesel-powered generators to operate, while most families rely on cheap kerosene to light up their homes.
“The government is focused on exploiting and developing our hydro and renewable energy resources. With funding from the AfDB, we aim to generate 10-40 MW of renewable energy. The government also plans to invest 1,080 MW grand Fula hydropower project to generate and distribute power across various states in South Sudan,” said Kiir.
Dhieu Mathok Diing, Minister of Energy and Dams, lauded Ezra Company and Chinese firm PowerChina which has also completed major work on the Juba Power Distribution System and Rehabilitation Expansion Project funded by AfDB.
South Sudan plans to connect power from Uganda’s 400 MW Karuma dam by 2023 to connect its border towns.
Juba also plans to source power from its northern neighbor Sudan to supply the northern areas of Renk and Malakal near the border with Sudan.
“Plans are underway by the ministry of energy and dams and South Sudan Electricity Corporation (SSEC) to participate in bilateral interconnection with Sudan which will provide 220 KV transmission line from Renk to Malakal,” said Kiir.
Benedict Sorie Kanu, AfDB country manager in South Sudan, revealed that lender will continue to support South Sudan’s efforts to develop its energy sector.
“Since we commenced operations in South Sudan, I am pleased to inform you that AfDB has to date funded 13 operations in South Sudan with cumulative approvals standing at about 178.6 million U.S dollars,” said Kanu.
“Our active portfolio in South Sudan amounts to 137 million dollars,” he added.