By Gatkuoth Gatkeek Biel Mechuol
OPINION – For decades, civil wars occurred in Sudan between the central government in Khartoum and its citizens from the southern parts of the country. That conflict officially ended with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ensured a peaceful resolution and brought about real steps towards the southern Sudan’s region liberation. The peace deal did contain an important element that gave a considerable economic advantage to South Sudan: an agreement on the sharing of oil revenue with Sudan. As it became independent, South Sudan inherited 75% of oil resources from the Sudan. While the pipelines and oil manufacture remained in the latter’s territory. This situation, naturally, created a huge energy potential in the newly born country.
At the time, South Sudan become newly independent in 2011, the oil production reached a considerable high level, allowing the country to generate approximately 500 million US Dollars from its share. Even though the civil war that it experienced afterwards caused a halt of half of the oil production, South Sudan still possesses the third-largest oil reserves in the African continent with a potential of 3.5 billion Barrels of oil. The fact that only 30 percent of the South Sudanese territory has been explored so far, shows the enormity of the country’s available oil resources.
Because of enormous oil resources available, the energy sector constitutes the most important asset for the development of South Sudan. The oil sector dominates the entire economy of the country, as it constitutes the only source of income for the government. 98 percent of South Sudan’s national budget is recovered from the oil revenues. Before the civil war that started in 2013, oil production generated $13 Billion in revenue. But the outbreak of the conflict affected oil production by causing a loss of $4 Billion in terms of revenue. There are also proven reserves of natural gas located in the Oil-Rich Muglad and Melul basins that both South Sudan and Sudan share in the borderlands. Those reserves do represent an opportunity for South Sudan to put on strategies to develop a gas sector ( US ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION,2018).
Renewable energy resources are part of South Sudan energy’s ecosystem. Biomass, which consists of charcoal, wood, grass, cow dung, and agricultural residues, represents the most predominant source of energy consumption in South Sudan. Just in 2014, biomass constituted 70 percent of the country’s energy consumption. The South Sudanese people mostly rely on traditional sources of fuel, such as firewood, to sustain their needs in their daily life. The natural conditions of the country do favor the development of biomass energy. 33 percent of the entire South Sudan territory is covered by forests to date, making access to biomass energy the fastest and safest way to maintain the sustainability of energy consumption of the population of South Sudan.
The heavy reliance of the population on biomass cannot be explained by the natural conditions alone. The country’s electricity sector being severely underdeveloped, the majority of South Sudanese dependence on biomass, as easiest alternative source of energy to consume, is quite understandable. A World Bank Report shows that from 2011, the date of independence, to 2017, there’s progressive improvement of the population’s access to electricity. While in 2011 , only less than 6 percent of South Sudan population benefited from electricity, in 2017, the access rate was more than 25 percent.
There are other types of renewable resources available in South Sudan, such as Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Geothermal Energy and Hydropower. These energy sources are yet to be developed, but they do have sufficient potentialities to help South Sudan achieve sustainable energy security. Hydropower, for example, represents a great opportunity for renewable energy sources, because South Sudan is one of the countries through which the Nile River flows. The government pays particular attention to the development of small hydropower to facilitate the local communities’ access to electricity.
The country has also a potential to develop Wind Energy, especially for the electrification of rural areas. The location of South Sudan at the proximity of the East African Rift System also represents an opportunity to invest and develop geothermal energy. As for Solar Energy, it is being used in households and serves as a power source for use of different devices. For the population in rural zones, the use of Solar Energy appears even more practical than other sources, as it facilitates the provision of daily needs, such as supplying hot water and lightning.
In order to expedite industrialization in South Sudan, the government should encourage large-scale investment in renewable energy production, generation, storage and distribution from foreign investors with huge capital. This will increase the level of development in other infrastructures such as roads and rail for easy accessibility of these potential energy investment areas in the country. However, great case is necessary when allowing these foreign investors to invest in the energy sector, because climate change occurrence has increased in the recent years due to lack of proper strategies and focus-based plants in maintaining the level of gas production and management more especially in European Countries where these plants have been made for a long period of time affecting world in the long-run interns of floods.
The author is a student of economics specializing in economics of renewable energy. He is also conducting research on energy generation, production, storage and distribution with focus on case study of South Sudan. He is also the CEO of Mechuol Magazine and a reporter and editor of Canada-based BD Guandong Magazine. He can be reached via: email@example.com.
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