Uganda Signs Historic Agreement to Export Electricity to South Sudan

Uganda Signs Historic Agreement to Export Electricity to South Sudan

In a significant move to bolster the energy sector in East Africa, the Ugandan government has inked a deal to commence the export of electricity to South Sudan. This monumental Power Sales Agreement (PSA) was signed on Tuesday, June 27, solidifying a partnership that promises to revolutionize the socio-economic dynamics of the region and enhance regional productivity.

The Ugandan Minister of Energy, Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, led her delegation to Juba, South Sudan’s capital, for the execution of this milestone accord. Irene Bateebe, the Permanent Secretary of Uganda’s Ministry of Energy, was the signatory on behalf of the country. On the South Sudan side, the pact was inked by Beck Awan Deng, the General Manager of South Sudan Electricity Cooperation (SSEC). Peter Marcello Jelenge, the South Sudan Energy Minister, represented his government in these discussions.

The export electricity agreement holds that Uganda will supply 400 kilo-volts of power to the South Sudanese towns of Kaya, Oraba, Elegu, and Nimule. This intervention will significantly enhance socio-economic activities in these border areas, providing a much-needed boost to their economy and infrastructure.

This PSA is a product of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed back in December 2015 to develop transmission and distribution infrastructure with the objective of connecting the two countries. In this most recent development, there has been an emphasis on prioritizing the development of the 400 kilo-volt Olwiyo – Juba Power Transmission Line of 308km. This line is of strategic importance and will facilitate power exchange between Uganda and South Sudan.

The transmission line is split into two sections; the Ugandan side will span 138km while the South Sudan side will cover a distance of 170km. As part of the project, the 400kV power substations of Olwiyo and Bibia near Uganda’s Elegu border post, along with the Juba substation, will undergo expansion.

“This agreement symbolizes the inception of a meaningful cooperation in power trade between Uganda and South Sudan,” stated Minister Nankabirwa. She added, “We envision projects that are mutually beneficial to the people of Uganda and South Sudan… We will take power from small towns in Uganda, such as Elegu and Oraba, to supply power to our neighbors in Nimule and Kaya in South Sudan.”

The 400kV Olwiyo-Juba Transmission Line will derive power from the Olwiyo Substation, which is already operational at 132kV. The Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Plan (NELSAP) has been commissioned to coordinate the joint development of the transmission line in an MoU signed between Uganda and South Sudan. A Joint Technical Committee has been established to oversee and coordinate the project’s development.

Financial backing for feasibility studies has been secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has expressed a willingness to fund the project based on an Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) or Public Private Partnership model, subject to the feasibility study outcomes. The feasibility study, scheduled for completion in February 2024, began in March 2023. The study is being conducted by a consortium comprising CESI S.p.A (Italy), ELC Electroconsult S.p.A. (Italy), and Colenco Consulting Ltd (Nigeria).

The partnership between the two countries extends beyond the generation and transmission of electricity. The nations also cooperate in the power distribution segment, with distribution networks already constructed in the Uganda-South Sudan border towns of Nimule and Kaya. This collaboration is anticipated to enhance security along the border towns.

South Sudan has one of the lowest electricity consumption rates per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa. The ambitious step taken by Uganda to export electricity to its neighbor is expected to bridge this gap and spur a new era of socio-economic development in the region.

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