South Sudan's chance to be the first major consumer of Uganda’s excess electricity may not be realised soon as the country still lacks interconnection lines to evacuate power.
This was one of the items on the agenda at the August 24 meeting between President Yoweri Museveni and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir at State House Entebbe. Also featured was the extension of the road to Juba.
A source told The EastAfrican that the two leaders noted the plans were behind schedule, as power interconnection projects under the East African Community Power Pool were in 2015 planned for commissioning by 2020.
South Sudan is an oil producer, but it exports crude and the government has a huge fuel import bill, spending $1.6 billion per year on fuel products, half of which goes to power generators.
In addition, the United Nations peacekeeping mission and international humanitarian operations are almost exclusively diesel-powered, with a combined budget of more than $2 billion per year, according to a 2018 United States Institute of Peace (USIP) report.
South Sudan presents a good export market for Uganda, whose installed capacity currently stands at 1,167MW.
When the 600MW Karuma hydropower dam comes online, the country’s total installed capacity will be more than three times the current peak consumption of 600MW.
Following up on a memorandum of understanding in 2015, Uganda signed an agreement with South Sudan in October 2017 to supply power via a 400kV line from Karuma hydropower dam, which authorities say is set for completion by the end of this year.
South Sudan’s installed capacity stands at about 131.4MW against an estimated demand of 300MW, and is expected to rise to 1400MW by 2040.
The current average tariff in the country stands at $0.43 per kWh, which is high compared with most countries in the region including Kenya and Uganda whose average tariff range between $0.24 per kWh and $0.35 per kWh.