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ADB approves US $110m grant to boost power supply in Afghanistan

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US $110m grant to boost power supply in Afghanistan and strengthen it’s energy sector by improving its sustainability and promoting cross-border trade in energy.

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.

Power supply in Afghanistan

Afghanistan relies on energy imports from neighboring countries to meet its domestic demand. Despite significant progress since 2002, only about 34% of the population has access to grid-connected electricity.

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.

According to ADB Energy Specialist Nana Gurgenidze, demand for electricity is growing rapidly in Afghanistan and is essential for the country’s economic growth. “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,” he added.

The project is aligned with the government’s priority programs in the energy sector, ADB’s Strategy 2030, and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program’s Energy Strategy 2030. It is also aligned with ADB’s Afghanistan Country Partnership Strategy, 2017–2021, which aims to prevent worsening poverty and establish a stronger foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth.

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