Sudan struggles with chronic electricity shortages

Published November 29th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A new electricity ministry is the lynchpin of a plan by the Sudanese government efforts to deal with the country’s perennial electricity supply problem.  


According to the PANA news agency, the ministry will operate separately from the existing energy and mining ministry, and begin operating during January 2001.  


Sudan’s thermal and hydroelectric stations currently produce about 430 megawatts of power, less than half the estimated daily demand of 1,000 megawatts. A variety of actors are responsible. For one, the optimal output of 280 megawatts from the Rosairis hydroelectric station frequently falls to between 150 and 100 megawatts because of natural conditions. This is mostly during the late winter and early summer when the Blue Nile is at its lowest. Furthermore, the water in the Blue Nile is at its high point, silt and debris clog the Rosairis Dam and obstruct operation of the electricity generators turbines.  


In the meantime, the national electric corporation is rationing supplies throughout the country. To cope, the business community has had to invest in generators, and this includes most of the stores in Khartoum’s central market. 


And few are spared. A group of journalists recently suffered through a blackout during a planned interview with President Omar el Bashir at the Republican Palace. 


Attempts to liberalize electricity production in Sudan and to attract foreign investors have been unsuccessful thus far, because of the country’s inability to come up with adequate financial guarantees. The energy ministry recently revealed that would-be investors who had been spoken to asked for oil shipments instead of money.  


There has been some good news. China recently concluded a loan agreement worth $150 million dollars to build a 200 megawatt thermal station in Garri, about 35 km north of Khartoum. The station, which will fueled by surplus gas from a Chinese- built oil refinery in the area. It is expected to become operational in 24 months.  


Another short-term plan includes the provision of additional 50 megawatts in Bahri thermal station, and the installation of two 10 megawatts thermal units at the Khartoum oil refinery, four diesel generation stations in Eastern Sudan as well as the installation of power turbines at Jebel Awlia Dam on the White Nile, some 50 km South of Khartoum.,  


Long-term plans include the Hamdab Dam in Merowe and the Kajbar Dam near Abri, both in the far north of the country. Problem is, though, before they can go ahead, the Sudanese government will have to raise some $3 billion worth of funding. – (Albawaba-MEBG) 


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