The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday approved a $110 million grant to boost power supply and strengthen Afghanistan’s energy sector by improving its sustainability and promoting cross-border trade in energy.
A statement by the ADB said the project will help address Afghanistan’s chronic power shortage by immediately doubling the volume of power imports and ensuring long-term cost-competitive electricity supply. It will facilitate the Afghan system’s first parallel (synchronous) operation with the Uzbek system and the Central Asia Power System (CAPS).
Once complete, the project will provide improved access to customers and facilitate 500,000 new connections to households, commercial entities, and industrial customers, ADB said.
“Demand for electricity is growing rapidly in Afghanistan and is essential for the country’s economic growth,” said ADB Energy Specialist Nana Gurgenidze. “The project will help provide reliable and affordable electricity to households and businesses by strengthening the grid and increasing power import capacity by 900 megawatts, with year-round firm energy imports of 3,000 gigawatt-hours.”
Afghanistan relies on energy imports from neighbouring countries to meet its domestic demand. Despite significant progress since 2002, only about 34% of the population has access to grid-connected electricity.
The bank said the project will finance the construction of 201km of a 500-kilovolt overhead transmission line from the Surkhan substation in Uzbekistan to the Khwaja-Alwan substation in Afghanistan — a key interconnection node to receive power from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
It will also fund the expansion of a line bay, including associated equipment, at the Khwaja–Alwan substation. The project will allow Uzbek power into the Afghan grid under a 10-year power purchase and sales agreement signed in August 2020 by the Afghanistan and Uzbekistan governments.
Under the project, staff, including female engineers at the national power utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), will be trained to manage cross-border power transfer and parallel operations, including emergency operation systems with CAPS.