By Kamila Aliyeva
Large-scale regional project in the power industry which is set to link Central and South Asia -- CASA-1000 -- has entered construction phase by signing EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contracts for over 550 kilometers of high voltage direct current transmission line in Afghanistan.
The Afghan section of transmission line begins in Sherkhan Bandar border with Tajikistan and ends at Torkham border checkpoint with Pakistan, the press service of CASA-1000 reported.
The construction of the Afghan section of the regional power transmission line will be carried out by two Indian companies - KEC International Limited and Kalpa-Taru Power Transmission Limited, according to the message.
The agreements on the construction of the Afghan section between the National Energy Company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat and the above mentioned contractors were signed in Kabul last December in the presence of the country's leadership, as well as representatives of the World Bank and the responsible persons of the countries participating in the CASA-1000 project – Tajikistan and Pakistan.
Lot-1 of the project was signed with KPTL for a total value of $76.9 million. Lot-2 and Lot-3 were signed with KEC for separate values of $85.43 million, and $72.83 million respectively, the press service said.
The total length of the high-voltage transmission line amounts to 765 kilometers while the length of the line inside Afghanistan is 563 kilometers.
There are an estimated 600 villages, 23 districts and seven provinces along the corridor of the line [in Afghanistan]. The provinces along the corridor of the line are Kondoz, Baghlan, Panjsher, Kapisa, Kabul, Laghman and Nangarhar, the press service informed.
It is stressed that communities that exist along the corridor of the line will benefit from the Community Support Program of the Project.
The total value of the project transmission lines in Afghanistan is $235.16 million which is funded by a World Bank Grant. The total cost of CASA-1000 regional project is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to the message.
CASA-1000 is an interregional electricity transmission project in Central and South Asia to connect four countries - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It is presupposed that the project will create opportunities for the export of electricity surplus in summer period from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan through Afghanistan.
Implementation of this project will result in peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. This project will bring prosperity to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The regional CASA-1000 project will not only have economic benefits for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but it will also have a positive impact on the security situation and political stability in these countries.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have the world’s most abundant clean hydropower resources. Both countries have the surplus of electricity during the summer due to water cascading from the mountain ranges, while Afghanistan and Pakistan face chronic electricity shortages and cannot keep pace with demand for it.
The project initially also included transfer of electricity to Afghanistan, however the country abandoned its share of electricity due to dearth of demand, hence Pakistan will receive 1,300 megawatts of electricity.
Groundbreaking for the project took place on May 12, 2016 in Tajikistan in a ceremony attended by the Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Pakistani Prime Ministers. CASA-1000 project will cost more than $1 billion and is expected to be completed by 2020.
Such international financial institution as the World Bank (WB), the European Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), as well as the UK government and others act as investors in the project.
In particular, for the implementation of the Tajik section of the project, the World Bank will allocate $45 million the IDB - $70 million, and the EBRD - $110 million.
Economy analysts are not very hopeful about the implementation of the project due to lack of cooperation between the countries involved. The experts note the insecurity in Afghanistan as another hurdle for the electricity transmission project.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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