KABUL (Pajhwok): Da Afghanistan Bareshna Shirkat (DABS) or power utility says it has initiated talks with donors regarding some power generation projects.
While experts insist the government should build dams without listening to neighboring countries and complete the electricity extension project from Turkmenistan as soon as possible.
Uzbekistan has halted power supply to Afghanistan since last two weeks, creating many problems for people and forcing 90 percent factories to stop functioning.
Participants of Pajhwok’s Twitter space “Tanazur” program discussed the lack of electricity in Afghanistan last night and solutions and more than 1600 people listened to the program live.
Talks with donors on power generation
DABS operations director Safiullah Ahmadzai said that Uzbekistan’s power generation equipment lacked the specified capacity to sustain in cold weather and therefore they gradually reduced power supply to Afghanistan and then completely cut it off.
“Uzbekistan currently supplies about 130 megawatts of electricity to Afghanistan and DABS has been in contact with the country to supply electricity according to the contract between the two countries.”
Uzbekistan should export 400MW of electricity to Afghanistan under the agreement between the two countries.
Ahmadzai said Afghanistan currently imported 80 percent of electricity and the 20 percent was produced inside the country. Afghanistan needs 1370 megawatts of electricity, but 900 megawatts is available in the networks and there is a shortage of 470 megawatts.
He said according to the Asian Development Bank, Afghanistan has resources to produce 22,000 megawatts of solar power, 67,000 megawatts of wind power and 23,000 megawatts of hydropower.
He called the construction of Bagh Dara dam in central Kapisa province as crucial to resolving Afghanistan’s electricity shortage problem as the dam had the potential to generate 226MW of electricity.
He said the dam would store water and also produce electricity and its water flowed to Naghlu dam which could produce 100MW of electricity. He said the Sarobi dam could generate 130MW of electricity.
He said for sustainability of electricity, investments had been made to produce 40MW of solar power in Kandahar and 40MW of gas power in Shiberghan.
He said work was underway on the power transmission line from Turkmenistan. The 500KV line which could carry 1000MW of electricity required up to $65 million, he added.
An agreement between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan on the 500KV power line was signed in 2016 and it was scheduled to be completed in 2019, but the project was delayed due to some internal problems and political uncertainty.
In this regard, Ahmadzai said DABS had devised a five-year plan and available resources were being considered and talks were ongoing with some foreign investors.
About electricity production from coal, he said huge coal deposits existed in Baghlan, Takhar and Bamyan provinces, and talks were underway with the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum to generate electricity from coal.
He said investment in electricity production was imperative for other projects, otherwise the mineral deposits would remain untapped and Afghanistan would remain a backward country.
Safiullah Ahmadzai also said some Chinese and European companies had evinced interest in investing in coal-fired power generation.
Don’t listen to neighbors to build power dams
Mirwais Alami, former DABS commercial affairs director, termed the electricity shortage problem in Afghanistan as political.
“Afghanistan should not rely on Uzbekistan only and should buy much electricity from Tajikistan and should complete works of the 500KV line from Turkmenistan, which has been 90 percent completed, as soon as possible.”
He said the government should consider big power projects and encourage local investors to work on construction of dams if it could not do so itself.
Alami said: “Afghanistan should no longer pay attention to the excuses of its neighbors. The Islamic Emirate should pay more attention to this issue as no donor has built dams on Afghanistan’s rivers in the past 15 years.”
He said in the past Afghanistan had no strong government for political talks, but still the Salma dam was constructed and the Shah and Uros dam would probably be inaugurated after a year or a few months and the Naghlu dam’s capacity had been increased.
He said laws should be clarified in order to attract investors to increase electricity production in the country and security of investors should be ensured.
Electricity import project from Turkmenistan
Former Kabul and Nangarhar electricity chief Wahidullah Popalzai said no basic work to repair big dams and construct new dams had been done in the past 20 years.
He says: “The time is ripe to construct hydropower dams in Afghanistan and attract investment; Investors should be encouraged to invest in solar, gas and coal-fired power generation.”
He said the 500KV electricity line from Turkmenistan, which is almost complete, should be completed as soon as possible.
He said millions of dollars were required to finish the remaining works of the project.
“This money is colossal for the current government, but if the private sector is asked to give DABS loan in return for electricity, this project will be completed easily”.
He also suggested if a fund was created and every Afghan contributed to the fund, the country’s electricity problem would be fundamentally resolved.