Why you pay world’s highest power bills in South Sudan

Why you pay world’s highest power bills in South Sudan

South Sudan’s energy tariff tops the chart of as the most expensive in the whole world.

According to the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Energy and Dams, Tom Remis, the tariff averages 40 cents Kilowatts per hour).

“The power tariff in South Sudan is the highest in the world. We have to confess that this is the reality,” Remis revealed

Remis said the main reason behind the expensive tariff was that the country was solely dependent on diesel and heavy fuel.

The undersecretary said it was up to the government to put energy as a priority by investing in alternative sources of renewable energy like solar or hydropower.

“That will come when energy is put as the priority of the government so that we build very cheap reliable and affordable power plants which anybody can buy; either solar or hydropower plants,” he continued.

He noted that the ministry would soon connect major towns like Wau and Juba, to the national grid – a 20-megawatt solar plant.

South Sudan is the least ranked country in power connectivity in the world.

He noted connecting to the grid was expensive because the current subscription fee from JEDCO—power distributor— was also discouraging people.

“The bill is very high, sometimes can go to $3000, $4,000,” Remis explained.

The remedies

He noted that the low purchasing power among the families was also discouraging newer connections.

“We have to let the consumers pay the connection fees in instalments. If you are being paid well, then the issue of the connection will not be a problem. But if you are not being paid good, electricity will not be the priority.”

Quick survey by City Review established that most households or businesses in Juba, for example, are straining to shoulder the high energy cost.

Maekel Sultan, the manager of Lily’s Barber shop, said she had initially been paying SSP 50,000 and electricity tokens only lasted for 20 days while using the fan and AC. But now she spends the same amount on tokens which only last for 10 days.

“I had been paying SSP 50,000 to buy 246 Kilowatts, and it lasted for 20 days while using the fan and AC from morning till evening was enough. But they reduced step by step, to 240 Kilowatts, 180 kilowatts, 145 kilowatts. The 50,000 but it only lasts for 10 days without using the AC,” Maekel said.

“JEDCO didn’t tell us why we pay and they keep on reducing kilowatts. Maybe the dollar, we don’t know. We want them to reduce the tariff.”

On May 22, 2022, Maekel used 235.5 KWH which cost her $103.01, while on August 06, 2022, the watts she used were 148 KWH which cost her $65.29, both showing a standard rate of $0.44 dollar per 1 KWH.

Ryan Michael who operates Large Format printer, Bizhub and Photocopiers, in Konyo Konyo said he hardly makes profit now.

According to a receipt issued by JEDCO to Ryan last week, the cost incurred for power was $10.23 dollar per 23.3 KWH, which means that 1 KWH is equivalent to $0.44 dollar.

He said electricity cost between $3 dollar or $4 dollar per week in Uganda, which is equivalent to SSP 2,307 per week.

“JEDCO has done good job for bringing power to the city, but it is expensive. I pay SSP 35,000 or SSP 40,000 per week. In Uganda, electricity is very cheap. You can use three to four dollars a week,” Ryan gave the comparison.

“I think the problem with JEDCO is the issue of costs of crude oil. The government needs to give them dollars to bring crude oil,” Ryan said.

“The government should not tax these people when they bring materials at the border, then in turn they will do the necessary. You cannot tell someone to lower the bill yet the cost of running the business is high and dollar is high.”

On Tuesday, the First Vice President Riek Machar called on investors to invest in the energy sector saying it was the major area that was discouraging investors from coming.

According to Machar, the issue of transition from fossil fuel to clean energy has to wait and the country must first exploit enough fossil fuel to build adequate infrastructure beforehand.