The Juba Electricity Distribution Company (JEDCO) has abruptly issued a communication informing its ‘valued’ customers it will start shedding power from Tuesday, April 6th, 2020. The company alleges that the power plant is in a critical state and cannot supply power because of a lack of commitment and resources from its other stakeholders.
Power shedding is the deliberate shutdown of electric power in part or parts of a power distribution system to prevent the failure of the entire system when the demand strains the systems’ capacity.
The statement did not further explain the commitment it refers but instead said the areas affected by the power shedding would be informed accordingly.
In January this year, JEDCO made a similar announcement that it would halt power supply supposedly from January 12th due to lack of operational resources. The plans were later halted after government intervention.
Many South Sudanese have expressed dissatisfaction on how JEDCO operations:
One commentator says, “JEDCO is a business entity with customers who are willing to pay for their services. The issue is that JEDCO doesn’t know how a firm can maximize its profit and minimize loss. They can’t be making noise every day while customers are paying them, including government institutions.”
“They probably want to get their share of the recently announced 174 million dollars from the IMF nothing else. It’s better the government starts thinking of a sustainable solution like building Fulla Falls Dam in Nimule,” another said.
Another added that, “JEDCO remove your power. We are used to darkness, Your power is not for free. We have been paying for it but you continue disturbing us. What do you do with the money customers pay?”
“JEDCO has been taken over by South Sudanese corrupt morons and is engaged in a series of blackmails left, right and center,” claims one.
Some say this is what happens when an incompetent government runs a country. They say JEDCO is an unregistered company that collects power tariffs without taxes for Ezra Company that siphons the case out of the country without government regulation.
However, a separate opinion maker who seems to be standing with JEDCO said, “You will never get a reliable partner in power generation without the government giving the much-needed dollars for the purchase of spare parts. These generators consume a lot of fuel. Some spare parts need regular inspection and replacement. The electricity payment is being done in South Sudanese Pounds, and the consumables’ purchase is done in dollars.”
The Ezra Construction and Development Group runs the 100-megawatt power plant on build, own, operate basis and provides 33MW to the capital Juba and surrounding areas.
JEDCO has 9,990 households, 3,550 businesses, and over 200 government institutions connected to the grid.
According to the power purchase agreement signed with the government, the company says the Ministry of Energy “is contractually obliged to allocate foreign currency” to Juba Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (JEDCO). This distribution company then pays the Ezra Group in hard currency for supplying bulk energy. The payment was due by the fifth of each month, according to the Central Bank rate.
South Sudan’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped amid lower oil prices, its most significant income source.
The Juba Electricity power plant was built and managed by the Ezra Construction and Development Group in a $38 million Juba Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project funded by the African Development Bank.
While launching the 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 also said the country will develop its hydropower resources – mainly in Fulla Falls in Nimule.