Novel approaches are necessary to accelerate the provision of reliable electric power in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Existing approaches to planning power system investment tend to ignore conflict-related risk and its serious consequences. Here, we propose a framework for identifying power system investment strategies in fragile and conflict-affected countries, and apply it to South Sudan. Our results show that investment strategies that explicitly consider the challenges posed by potential conflict may improve the reliability of electricity service over the status-quo approach. Our analysis suggests investing in a diverse mix of supply types in the medium term, and building a power system with redundancies or a higher share of local resources in the long term, to reduce vulnerability to conflict and socio-political fragility.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The code and data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Africa Energy Outlook: A Focus on Energy Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa (International Energy Agency, 2014).
Energy Access Outlook 2017: From Poverty to Prosperity (International Energy Agency, 2017).
Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations General Assembly, 2015).
Messner, J. J. et al. Fragile States Index 2017 (The Fund for Peace, 2017).
Collier, P. Fragile States and International Support Working Paper Development No. 175 (FERDI, 2016).
Trotter, P. A., McManus, M. C. & Maconachie, R. Electricity planning and implementation in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 74, 1189–1209 (2017).
Debnath, K. B. & Mourshed, M. Challenges and gaps for energy planning models in the developing-world context. Nat. Energy 3, 172–184 (2018).
Labordena, M., Patt, A., Bazilian, M., Howells, M. & Lilliestam, J. Impact of political and economical barriers for concentrating solar power in Sub-Saharan Africa. Energy Policy 102, 52–72 (2017).
Zerriffi, H., Dowlatabadi, H. & Strachan, N. Electricity and conflict: advantages of a distributed system. Electr. J. 15, 55–65 (2002).
Bazilian, M. & Chattopadhyay, D. Considering power system planning in fragile and conflict states. Energy Sustain. Dev. 32, 110–120 (2016).
Patankar, N., de Queiroz, A. R., Decarolis, J. F., Bazilian, M. D. & Chattopadhyay, D. Building conflict uncertainty into electricity planning: a South Sudan case study. Energy Sustain. Dev. 49, 53–64 (2019).
Dokan and Derbandikhan Emergency Hydro Power Project Report AB2246 (World Bank, 2006).
Uganda: Power System Efficiency Study Activity Completion Report No. 092/88 (United Nations Development Programme & World Bank, 1988).
Lelyveld, J. Bombs damage atom plant site in South Africa. The New York Times (20 December 1982).
Bala-Gbogbo, E. Nigeria power plans must overcome gas-pipeline sabotage. Bloomberg (11 June 2015).
Syria International Energy Data and Analysis (US Energy Information Administration, 2015).
Syria: the struggle over electricity. The Economist Intelligence Unit (3 October 2014).
Karanfil, N. Turkey vows to invest heavily in infrastructure to thwart recurrence of blackouts. Hurriyet Daily News (8 January 2016).
Margolis, J. E. Estimating state instability. Stud. Intell. 56, 13–24 (2012).
Birge, J. R. & Louveaux, F. Introduction to Stochastic Programming (Series in Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Springer Science & Business Media, 2011).
Bertsimas, D., Brown, D. B. & Caramanis, C. Robust optimization. SIAM Rev. 53, 464–501 (2011).
Energy Infrastructure Attack Database (EIAD) (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology & Paul Scherrer Institute, accessed 7 July 2016); http://trackingenergyattacks.com/EIAD
National Research Council Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System (National Academies Press, 2012); https://doi.org/10.17226/12050
Mai, N. J. H., Mayai, A. T. & Tiitmamer, N. Sporadic Fuel Crisis in South Sudan: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions (The Sudd Institute, 2016).
Glanz, J. The reach of war: attacks and abductions; bombing sets pipeline afire; captives alive, reports suggest. The New York Times (11 July 2004).
Sab, R. Economic Impact of Selected Conflicts in the Middle East: What Can We Learn from the Past? Working Paper (International Monetary Fund, 2014).
Pfaff, C. Safeguarding Hoover Dam during World War II. Prologue Magazine Vol. 35 (Summer 2003).
Bayar, T. Hyundai, Doosan halt construction on Libyan power plant. Power Engineering International (11 August 2014).
Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan (US Energy Information Administration, 2018).
Dessu, M. K. & Tadesse, S. Sanctions prove key to ending South Sudan’s civil war ReliefWeb https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/sanctions-prove-key-ending-south-sudan-s-civil-war (2018).
South Sudanese celebrate peace deal signed by Kiir and Machar. BBC News https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-45077389 (6 August 2018).
SE4ALL Access to Electricity (% of Population) (World Bank, accessed 16 March 2017); https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.EL C.ACCS.ZS?locations=SS
Electricity Generation by Fuel South Sudan 1990–2016 (International Energy Agency, 2017); https://www.iea.org/statistics/?country=SSUDAN&year=2016&category=Electricity&indicator=ElecGenByFuel&mode=chart&dataTable=ELECTRICITYANDHEAT
The Republic of South Sudan Sustainable Energy for All: Rapid Situation Assessment Gap Analysis Report (Republic of South Sudan Ministry of Electricity, Dams, Irrigation and Water Resources & United Nations Development Programme, 2013).
Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan (US Energy Information Administration, 2014).
Nuna Kumba, J. The Republic of South Sudan Ministry of Electricity, Dams, Irrigation and Water Resources: Clean Power East Africa East African Power Industry Convention presentation (2015); https://www.esi-africa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Hon.-Jemma-Nunu-Kumba.pdf
Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program H3469553 (Nile Basin Initiative, 2014).
Palmintier, B. & Webster, M. Impact of unit commitment constraints on generation expansion planning with renewables. In IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting 1–7 (IEEE, 2011); https://doi.org/10.1109/PES.2011.6038963
Collier, P. & Hoeffler, A. Aid, policy and peace: reducing the risks of civil conflict. Defence Peace Econ. 13, 435–450 (2002).
Crost, B. B., Felter, J. & Johnston, P. Aid under fire: development projects and civil conflict. Am. Econ. Rev. 104, 1833–1856 (2014).
Brown, G. K. & Langer, A. Building Sustainable Peace: Timing and Sequencing of Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding (Oxford Univ. Press, 2016).
Intentional Homicide Statistics Database Intentional Homicides (per 100,000 People) (World Bank, accessed 1 October 2016); https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/VC.IHR.PSRC.P5?locations=CO
Nduru, M. South Sudan president directs oil minister to speed up work on oil refineries. S&P Global Platts (1 July 2016).
Product Prices in South Sudan (World Bank, 2016); http://dataviz.worldbank.org/views/MarketSurveys/ProductPrices?%3AisGuestRedirectFromVizportal=y&%3Aembed=y
Francis, O. & Khanyile, N. South Sudan devalues currency by 84% as dollar peg abandoned. Bloomberg (15 December 2015).
World Economic Outlook Database October 2016 Edition (International Monetary Fund, 2016); https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2016/02/weodata/index.aspx
Ansar, A., Flyvbjerg, B., Budzier, A. & Lunn, D. Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development. Energy Policy 69, 43–56 (2014).
Gbedemah, S. Delayed Projects in Sub Saharan Africa—the Usual Suspects (Navigant, 2015).
Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2016 (United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees, 2016).
SPLA confirms 200 people died fleeing Malakal. ReliefWeb https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan-republic/spla-confirms-200-people-died-fleeing-malakal (14 January 2014).
Fresh Fighting in South Sudan Displaces up to 26,000 in Malakal Area (United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees, 2016).
Arias, M. A., Ibáñez, A. M. & Querubin, P. The desire to return during civil war: evidence for internally displaced populations in Colombia. Peace Econ. Peace Sci. Public Policy 20, 209–233 (2014).
Hegre, H. et al. Forecasting civil conflict along the shared socioeconomic pathways. Environ. Res. Lett. 11, 54002 (2016).
Cederman, L.-E. & Weidmann, N. B. Predicting armed conflict: time to adjust our expectations? Science 355, 474–476 (2017).
GAMS (GAMS Development Corporation, 2018); https://www.gams.com
CPLEX User’s Manual Version 12 Release 6 (IBM, 2013); https://public.dhe.ibm.com/software/products/Decision_Optimization/docs/pdf/usrcplex.pdf
Juba Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project (African Development Fund, 2013).
Collins, S. et al. Integrating short term variations of the power system into integrated energy system models: a methodological review. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 76, 839–856 (2017).
Tejada-Arango, D. A., Domeshek, M., Wogrin, S. & Centeno, E. Enhanced representative days and system states modeling for energy storage investment analysis. IEEE Trans. Power Syst. 33, 6534–6544 (2018).
Szabó, S., Bódis, K., Huld, T. & Moner-Girona, M. Energy solutions in rural Africa: mapping electrification costs of distributed solar and diesel generation versus grid extension. Environ. Res. Lett. 6, 34002 (2011).
E.S. is an Onassis Foundation scholar and thanks the Onassis Foundation for research support. The authors also thank the Paul Scherrer Institut for providing a copy of the Energy Infrastructure Attack Database.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Spyrou, E., Hobbs, B.F., Bazilian, M.D. et al. Planning power systems in fragile and conflict-affected states. Nat Energy 4, 300–310 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-019-0346-x
Nature Energy (2022)
Linking solar and wind power in eastern Africa with operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Nature Energy (2021)
Extending energy system modelling to include extreme weather risks and application to hurricane events in Puerto Rico
Nature Energy (2021)
Nature Sustainability (2020)