South Sudan’s main electricity provider to the capital Juba said Sunday that it will stop supplying power to the national grid due to a lack of hard currency it needs for operations.
The Ezra Construction and Development Group runs a 100-megawatt power plant on a build, own, operate and transfer basis and provides 33MW to the capital and surrounding areas.
Citing its power purchase agreement signed with the government, the company said the Ministry of Energy “is contractually obliged to allocate foreign currency” to Juba Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (JEDCO), a distribution company which then pays the Ezra Group in hard currency for supplying bulk energy.
“This payment was due by the fifth of each month, according to the Central Bank rate. However, since the plant was commissioned, the Ezra Group has been allocated less than 15% of the total amount,” the company said in a statement Sunday.
The Juba City Power Distribution System was constructed with the support of the African Development Bank, which provided $38 million.
While launching the power plant last year, President Salva Kiir said South Sudan shall be connected to a 400-kilovolt line interconnecting Karuma in Uganda and Juba by 2023.
He said the country will also develop its hydropower resources –mainly in Fulla in Nimule.
“To date, no sustainable solution has been found” after several months of communication with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Energy and Dams, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Ministry of Petroleum and the Governor of the Bank of South Sudan requesting that the contractual obligations are fulfilled, the company said.
“The company has now exhausted every possible means to keep the plant operational, including loans against assets, credit supplies and letters of credit,” it said. “Ezra now regrets to inform the general public that from Tuesday, 12 January 2021 until further notice, the power plant will shut down due to a lack of operational resources.”
Separately, JEDCO also said “it regrets to inform all its customers that it has been forced to halt electricity supplies starting the morning of Tuesday, January 12, 2021, until further notice.”
“Despite extensive efforts by all stakeholders to prevent this unfortunate action, no workable solutions have been agreed to on time. The Republic of South Sudan government has not provided the foreign currency required to make long-overdue payments for the bulk energy Ezra Construction and Development Group supplies to JEDCO,” said the electricity distribution company, which has 9,990 households, 3,550 businesses and 200 governmental institutions on the grid.
By Benjamin Takpiny in South Sudan