Uganda to develop 308km power line to South Sudan

by Christopher Kiiza
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power

The Governments of Uganda and South Sudan have signed a Power Sales Agreement (PSA) to boost power trade between the two countries and bring socio-economic development to the border towns of Oraba, Elegu, Kaya and Nimule.

The development follows a December 2015 Memorandum of Understanding to develop transmission and distribution infrastructure to connect the two countries.

The June 27 discussions and Agreement will see the prioritization of the development of the 400kV Olwiyo – Juba Power Transmission Line of 308km (138km on the Ugandan side and 170km in South Sudan) to facilitate power exchange between the two countries.

The 400kV Power Substations of Olwiyo and Bibia (near Uganda’s Elegu border post), plus the Juba Substation, will also be expanded.

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa, led the Uganda Government delegation to Juba for the execution, while her counterpart, Peter Marcello Jelenge, represented the South Sudan government.

Uganda’s Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary, Irene Bateebe, signed the PSA on Uganda’s behalf, while Beck Awan Deng, the General Manager of South Sudan Electricity Cooperation (SSEC), signed on behalf of his country.

“Today’s signing ceremony marks the beginning of serious cooperation in power trade between Uganda and South Sudan,” said Nankabirwa.

“We would like to see projects that benefit both the people of Uganda and South Sudan…We will take power from small towns in Uganda, such as Elegu and Oraba. Similarly, the people at the border of such as Nimule and Kaya in South Sudan shall be supplied with power from Uganda,” she added.

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PROJECT PROGRESS

The 400kV Olwiyo-Juba Transmission Line will pick up power from Olwiyo Substation, which is already operational at 132kV.

In the MoU signed between Uganda and South Sudan, the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Plan (NELSAP) was mandated to coordinate the joint development of the transmission line.

A Joint Technical Committee has been established to plan and coordinate the project’s development.

Uganda and South Sudan have secured funds for feasibility studies from African Development Bank (AfDB). AfDB would also finance the project based on EPC or Public Private Partnership, depending on the outcome of the feasibility study.

A consortium of CESI S.p.A (Italy), ELC Electroconsult S.p.A. (Italy) and Colenco Consulting Ltd (Nigeria) has been procured to undertake the feasibility study, which commenced in March 2023 and will be completed in February 2024.

The two countries also collaborate in the power distribution segment, where distribution networks have already been constructed in the Uganda-South Sudan border towns of Nimule and Kaya.

Both countries hope that this cooperation will enhance regional productivity and support security along our border towns.

OTHER POWER SALES AGREEMENTS

It is worth noting that the Uganda – South Sudan Power Sales Agreement is not the first of its kind for the country.

Uganda maintains Power Purchase Agreements with Kenya since 1964. Kenya is one of the export markets for Uganda’s surplus electricity, alongside Tanzania, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Uganda, through Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), which is in charge of bulk electricity supplies, imports and exports power to different East African countries including Kenya, which mainly requests for support to its western grid.

Kenya’s western region is periodically affected by lack of stable supply from base-load sources such as hydro and geothermal due to lack of a transmission line from Olkaria where the country generates half of its electricity.

TARIFFS

Uganda produces more power than it consumes. Despite this, the tariff remains high which, leaves many Ugandans questioning the benefit of producing more power if the regulator, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) cannot lower the tariff.

For instance, the lifeline tariff for domestic consumers (first 15 Units in a month) is 250 shillings per unit, 16 to 80 units is 805 shillings per unit, 81 to150 units is 412 shillings per unit, and above 150 units is 805 shillings per unit.

Uganda’s total electricity generation capacity stands at 1,346 megawatts. This will increase to nearly 2,000 MW if the country’s biggest power plant, Karuma (600MW) is commissioned this year as promised by government months ago.

However, the consumption stands at 650 MW at peak demand.

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