Sudanese turn to solar power amid electricity shortages

Sudanese farmer Mohammed Mahgoub was spending more than $ 12 a day on gasoline to run his farm in Nile state, braving long lines at gas stations to power his irrigation pumps.

But a solar power unit he built a year ago to power his farm has helped him save money, energy and time. “Now I don’t spend anything,” he said, after the one-time installation cost.

Mahgoub Farm is one of many small businesses and households turning to sustainable energy solutions to tackle energy shortages in Sudan.

Sudan’s lack of foreign exchange reserves has led to frequent difficulties in securing a stable supply of gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and cooking gas, resulting in frequent drives to gas stations, power cuts and protests.

At the same time, the country’s transitional government made energy more expensive by cutting subsidies on gasoline, diesel and electricity, as part of a series of reforms designed to attract foreign funding and pull the country out of a protracted economic crisis.

Sudan is an important emerging market for solar power, said Rushdi Hamid, director of business development at Saruest Investment, one of the six big companies investing in solar power in Sudan.

A solar panel is seen on the roof of a house of Bank Director Abdel Maged Khougly in Khartoum, Sudan on May 17, 2021. REUTERS / El Tayeb Siddig

Hamid says the country is expected to be able to produce 2.4 gigawatts of solar power per year over the next 10 years.

“Part of this will be in the production of large power plants,” he said. “But there are a lot of small household uses that are needed and a significant agricultural need in this sector.”

The company estimates that the total investment in the solar energy sector has reached $ 500 million, producing nearly 500 megawatts per year. Saruest alone manages 1,200 solar energy projects in Sudan.

She and businesses like her enjoy exemptions on their tariffs when importing panels, and banks provide financing that allows farmers to pay in installments.

A small unit of solar power usually costs around $ 500, and for bank manager Abdel Maged Khojaly, the unit he built on his roof saved him up to 9,000 Sudanese pounds ($ 22 ) that he spent on electricity every month.

“Even after the electricity supply stabilizes, people will not give up solar energy, because it saves almost 50% of the monthly electricity bill.”

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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