Power sale expected to start shortly
The state power utility Ethiopian Electric and Power Corporation (EEPCo) that brokered power export agreement with the South Sudan Electric Utility Corporation (SSEUC) in 2012 is to undertake the feasibility study for the installation of the transmission line. This deal is the fourth power supply agreement, EEPCo signed with Ethiopia’s neighbours, i.e. Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya.
The electric monopoly, led by Mihiret Debebe, that signed the deal with the newly born country on June 7, 2012, has now decided to take up the feasibility study for the project with its own task forces. It will then submit it to independent international consultants, a process required to get financing from international sources.
Official of the corporation told Capital that EEPCo experts will carry out the full study not only from the Ethiopian side but from the South Sudan territory side as well, as the newly formed country does not have the professional capacity to undertake such feasibility study. However, the official did not discuss the cost details for the study.
Sources indicated that the neighbour country will cover the cost for the feasibility study project inside South Sudan. The experts are confident in finding interested international financiers for the transmission line project, which includes substations in different locations in the two countries. Before securing the finance however, detailed design of the project has to be completed. In mid last year EEPCo and South Sudanese power corporation agreed on two deals that include interconnection project studies and installation of a transmission line to connect the newest country that got independence from Sudan on July 7, 2011.
The contract signed between Mekuria Lemma, Corporate Planning Head of EEPCo and Ajuoi Chol, General Manager of South Sudan Electric Corporation, at Radisson Blu Hotel states that the interconnection project will be undertaken in two phases.
According to sources, the feasibility study is expected to commence in the near future. Officials indicated that EEPCo experts will travel to South Sudan in the coming few weeks.
According to the plan, the first phase of the project consists in the installation of 230 Kilo volt (kv) transmission line from Gambella along the South Sudan border. This project mainly covers the South Sudan region than the Ethiopian side as the transmission line already exists in Gambella region.
The second phase involves the installation of another line from the Grand Renaissance Dam (GRD), which is being constructed on Abay (Blue Nile River). “It will have a 500KV transmission line installed from the dam to South Sudan,” the corporation official explained.
The GRD mega project is expected to have the potential to generate 6,000MW electric power that shall, not only be used in the country, but also will be exported.
Meanwhile, the deal between EEPCo and SSEUC stipulates that both corporations have to look for external financiers to undertake the study and to implement the two phases of the transmission line project.
South Sudan whose economy depends on petroleum export requires high electric power for its booming trade.
The South Sudan Electric Corporation produces 10 mega watts daily against a demand of 50MW. Most businesses, government ministries and NGOs use generators. As it stands now SSEUC uses 48,000 litres of diesel daily to generate electricity for its customers as the government paves the way for heavier investment in the power sector to bring energy costs to manageable levels. High demand for power in Juba, capital city of South Sudan is currently being pushed by the hospitality industry which is placing a huge demand on the national grid. Independent estimates show that South Sudan can harness electricity close to 1400MW.
EEPCo begun exporting some 50MW electric power to Djibouti last year following the installation of the interconnection line. The second power export deal to Sudan has already bear fruit, with the commencement of electric transmission in the past year.
The last regional interconnection project already in the bag connecting Ethiopia to Kenya has received financing from the World Bank and is planned to commence operation in 2016.
In addition to these export programs, the corporation is currently exporting power to border towns in Somaliland and Kenya. Most of the transmission line projects have got high interest from international financiers, as EEPCo has proven most of them to be very feasible.
Ethiopia is currently undertaking multibillion dollar investments on a number of green energy projects that will see the country become one of Africa’s leading power exporter to neighbouring countries.