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Business Recorder

Published Date: Sep 5, 2013

Experts underscore need for regional energy corridor

The energy experts at a conference on Wednesday underlined the need for
co-operation among the South Asian countries to exploit natural
resources for the benefits of people in the region. They stated these at
the conclusion of a two-day ‘Abu Dhabi Process’ meeting held here and
attended by representatives of governments, parliaments and private
sector from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, USA
and Europe. The meeting titled "Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking Energy
Suppliers to Consumers in Asia" was organised by EastWest Institute in
Brussels in collaboration with the government of Pakistan and the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

The conference at the conclusion, recommended to realise the
dream of regional energy corridor such as integrated power grid built in
various blocks, joint feasibility for India-Pakistan grid connectivity
carried out by state transmission companies NTDC (National Transmission
and Dispatch Company) and PGCI (PowerGrid Corporation of India).

It further recommended the establishment of a joint power
development company, implementation of quick impact and pilot projects
to boost trust and confidence as well as create economic dream among the
regional stakeholders.

The participants also recommended formation of association of
regional private power investors, setting up a regional states joint
trust fund to support energy projects and engage Pakistan and India in
human resource development of Afghanistan in particular and the region
at large.

Speaking at the conference, World Bank’s Advisor on Regional
Co-operation Haroon Sharif said that 80 percent financial closure of $1
billion CASA project has been achieved which would provide 1,000MW
electricity to Pakistan. He said that $200 million financial closure
would be achieved soon by Central Asian Republics. He said the project
would take some shape in the next couple of years but listed political
instability, power crisis and corruption in regional countries including
Pakistan as highest constraints to investors. He added that unless
structural shift happens in this regard, actualisation of energy
projects is doubtful.

He said that in Pakistan, cost of industrial load shedding to
the economy has resulted in loss of 400,000 jobs and $1 billion in
exports whereas in Bangladesh, power shortages have accounted for GDP
losses of 1-2 percent. Sharif said that the proposed CASA-1000
transmission facilities would maximise the use of 1,300MW summer
electricity surplus from existing plants in Central Asia (Kyrgyz
Republic & Tajikistan) and provide electricity to electricity
deficient South Asia (Afghanistan & Pakistan).

The WB, Islamic Development Bank, and Gulf Co-ordination Group
have committed to finance 70 percent of the cost and the remaining would
be provided by JICA. Preparation work is proceeding with Joint Working
Group (JWG) and strengthening of the Inter-Governmental-Council (IGC)
Secretariat, Haroon stated.

Hilal A. Raza Dirctor SAARC Energy Center, Islamabad in his
presentation to the conference said that 1.6 billion people are living
in South Asia and 500 million of them live below poverty line. All
countries of South Asia are oil importing and energy deficit and
dependent on expensive energy. He said that energy availability at
affordable rate is critical to economic prosperity and poverty
reduction. He noted that the draft of a SAARC Inter-Governmental
Framework Agreement for Energy Co-operation (Electricity) was endorsed
by energy ministers in 2011 but is under still under consideration by
the member states.