The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved an African Development Fund (ADF) Grant of US $26 million, to rehabilitate and expand the distribution networks in Juba, South Sudan, where only 1% of the population has access to grid electricity located chiefly in the three main cities.
The Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project aims at providing reliable electricity supply from existing and future generation facilities and thus satisfying the suppressed load and demand growth in Juba. The upgraded and reinforced electricity supply will contribute to improve the quality of service provided by the national utility; the quality of life of residents; and promote businesses, hence contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction in South Sudan.
The Project consists of the construction of (i) 145 kilometres of low-voltage 33 kV lines; (ii) 370 km of medium-voltage lines; (iii) the purchase and installation of 195 transformer stations; and (iv) 20,000 prepaid meters for connecting 20,000 new customers.
Following the Board’s approval, the Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, Alex Rugamba, explained that “the current situation of low level of power generation, coupled with inefficient distribution networks, has adversely affected living standards of the population and restrained business development.” He insisted on the potential impact of the project: “The project will contribute to reduce the inefficiencies of the network and increase electricity access in Juba.”
Given that this intervention is the first donor-funded project undertaken by the power utility, South Sudan Electricity Corporation (SSEC), the project includes a capacity-building component to ensure knowledge transfer in the areas of procurement as well as financial and project management. With the deployment of the upgraded distribution network, the project will also be the opportunity for technical staff of the utility to get trained in the use of similar technologies, which are likely to be used for other projects in the near future.
This project in Juba is in line with the South Sudan Development Plan and South Sudan Infrastructure Action Plan, both identifying infrastructure as a core priority for South Sudan. The AfDB Interim Country Strategy Paper has also considered infrastructure as one of the pillars for the Bank’s intervention. Through the proposed investment, the Bank facilitates future investments in the electricity generation in South Sudan as the evacuation of energy output will be guaranteed.