Energy ministers of South and Central Asia have signed a final agreement for laying transmission lines for the supply of 1,300 megawatts of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The accord was inked in Turkey on Tuesday and Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif represented Pakistan at the event,” said the spokesman of the Ministry of Water and Power. “Work on the transmission lines is expected to start in May 2016,” he said.
According to an estimate given by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), the project will cost $953 million.
Pakistan will import electricity from Tajikistan under the Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) 1,000 project and supplies will begin in 2017. It will be able to import an additional 300MW if Afghanistan does not consume its share of electricity because of low demand.
The transmission lines will pass through war-torn Afghanistan, which has assured project stakeholders of protection of the infrastructure. It will take 1.25 cents per kilowatt hour as transit fee.
During the recent visit of Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon to Pakistan, both sides had announced that the project would be completed before 2018.
The Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan have put an important framework – the Inter-governmental Council – in place for making the Casa-1,000 project a reality. In addition to the commitment from the four countries, the World Bank has consented to finance the project.
The four countries have established the Inter-governmental Council in an effort to foster cooperation on the Casa-1,000 project. The council is tasked with discussing and deciding the strategic issues pertaining to the project and ensuring that necessary steps are taken to execute the plan.
In a significant development, Tajikistan is planning to offer 1,000MW to Pakistan, in addition to the Casa project, in a bid to put its surplus energy to use and help Islamabad ease the energy crisis.
Pakistan is studying the possibility of making more electricity imports for which transmission lines will be laid from Tajikistan to Chitral in the northern areas. A commission was formed during the Tajik president’s trip to Pakistan to work out modalities of the project.
Under this programme, the transmission lines will pass through a small border area of Afghanistan and reach Chitral, which is 15km from Tajikistan’s border.
Among other sectors of the economy, the energy sector of Tajikistan has been showing sustainable growth for the last 15 years.
During this period, hydroelectric power generation has been stable. In addition to big power plants, Tajikistan has 20 medium and 40 small hydroelectric power stations in remote mountainous areas.
Apart from electricity supply, Pakistan and Tajikistan have also agreed to build road projects that will connect the South and Central Asian regions.
In order to develop regional links, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Tajik President Rahmon have given approval to the Gwadar-Peshawar-Kabul-Kunduz-Dushanbe, Khunjerab-Kalasu-Murghab and Chitral-Eshkhahim-Dushanbe routes.
The prime minister said regional connectivity with Tajikistan and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects would transform economic outlook for the entire region. “The CPEC and connectivity projects with Tajikistan will prove to be the game changer for the whole region,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2015.