ISRS: Uzbek-Afghan agreement in the field of electricity is aimed at
achieving long-term interests and strategic goals of the two countries and the
Н о в о с т и
ISRS: Uzbek-Afghan agreement in the field of
electricity is aimed at achieving long-term interests and strategic goals of
the two countries and the entire region
TASHKENT, September 3. /IA «Dunyo» /. A high-level
government delegation from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan headed by
acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar visited Uzbekistan. During the visit,
intensive negotiations were held in the Government, Ministries of Foreign
Affairs, Investments and Foreign Trade, and other agencies. Both parties
discussed the state and prospects for the development of bilateral
cooperation in political, trade-economic, energy, transport-communications,
and other spheres, reports “Dunyo” IA correspondent.
One of the important results of the visit was the signing of an agreement
between the National Electricity Networks of Uzbekistan and the Afghan
company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) on the supply of electricity
to Afghanistan for a 10 years period. This contract is the practical
implementation of the agreements reached during the visit of Afghan
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to Uzbekistan in December 2017.
The head of the department of the Institute for strategic and regional
studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Rustam Khuramov
commented on the event at the request of “DUNYO” information agency.
The signing of this document can be regarded as another breakthrough step in
the modern history of Uzbek-Afghan relations, aimed at achieving the
long-term interests and strategic goals of the two countries.
First of all this agreement opens broad economic prospects, the
beneficiaries of which are all parties without exception.
For Uzbekistan, this is recognition of the role of a reliable supplier of
electricity to the Afghan market, with a regular supply of electricity since
2002. Since that time, the volume of supplies from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan
has increased from 62 million kW / h to almost 2.6 billion kW / h, that is,
more than 40 times. As a result, today the Uzbek side covers 56.5% of Afghan
Uzbek contractors are also involved in the development of the energy
infrastructure of Afghanistan, primarily in the implementation of the
project for the construction of the “Surkhan-Puli-Khumri” transmission line
with a length of 260 kilometers.
In turn, for the Afghan side, interaction with Uzbekistan in this area is
important from the point of view of ensuring the country's energy security.
This is due to the high dependence of the Afghan economy on external
electricity supplies, which account for more than 80% of the annual
electricity demand. Thus, domestic energy production in Afghanistan is only
1.1 billion kWh per year, and the country annually imports 4.6 billion kWh.
Nevertheless, due to insufficient volumes of production and imports, the
absence of an extensive network of power transmission lines in the country,
the problem of an acute shortage of electricity remains.
Today, only 30% of the population is connected to the power grid, and most
of the rural population, which makes up 75% of the total population of
Afghanistan, is left without electricity. Lack of electricity also does not
allow meeting the growing demand of the economy and hinders the full
development of the country's industrial potential.
In this regard, the issues of the increasing demand of the population and
the country's economy with electricity are becoming one of the priority
tasks for the Afghan government.
The Surkhan-Puli-Khumri project will play an important role in achieving
these goals aimed at expanding the energy supply of Afghanistan since the
construction and commissioning of this power transmission line will increase
the volume of Uzbek energy supplies by 70% - up to 6 billion kWh per year,
which will serve 10 million households a day.
In this vein, it is noteworthy that the implementation of these plans is
also attractive for other Central Asian states since the construction of a
new power transmission line will connect the Afghan energy system to the
unified energy system of Central Asia, thereby contributing to the early
integration of Kabul into regional economic processes.
The energy projects implemented by Uzbekistan also create opportunities for
the Central Asian states, which have great potential in hydro and solar
energy, to export electricity to the South Asia region through Afghanistan.
In the long term, this will allow them to play a key role in the spacious
energy market of the South Asian region and can become an important source
of export revenue for the entire region.
From an economic point of view, Uzbek-Afghan energy cooperation also opens
new horizons for interaction, especially in the transport and communication
sphere. In this context, it should be emphasized that it is impossible to
develop transport communications without electricity. The full supply of
electricity to Afghanistan creates favorable preconditions for the
development of the country's transport arteries, creates favorable prospects
for the construction of such railway corridors as Mazar-i-Sharif -
Kabul-Peshawar and Mazar-i-Sharif - Herat - Kandahar.
Uzbekistan is interested in the implementation of these plans since the
development of the transport infrastructure of Afghanistan will open the way
to the ports of Iran and Pakistan. Moreover, it will make it possible to use
the transit potential of the neighboring country to enter new promising
markets, increase the export of Uzbek products, and significantly reduce the
cost of export and import operations.
Secondly, the energy projects of Uzbekistan make an important contribution
to the stabilization of the social situation in Afghanistan, which is
aggravated under the influence of an unfavorable epidemiological situation.
According to World Bank estimates the impact of COVID-19 on the Afghan
economy will be extremely negative, as a result of which the country's
economic growth will decrease by about 4.4%.
Such a drop in GDP growth, along with reduced external economic support,
will affect Kabul's ability to maintain its social obligations and ensure
the functioning of the economy.
Today, about 16 million Afghans are in need of humanitarian assistance due
to the economic impact of COVID-19. Because of the pandemic, according to
forecasts, unemployment in Afghanistan could increase by 40% and poverty by
70%. Moreover, one-third of Afghanistan’s population, including 7.3 million
children, is facing food scarcity. At the same time, according to the UN,
about 2 million children in Afghanistan under the age of 5 years face severe
hunger, and 8.7 million people need long-term continuous assistance.
In this context, regular supplies of electricity by Uzbekistan will ensure
the operation of such important social facilities in Afghanistan as
hospitals and schools, allowing Kabul to contain the expansion of the
Guided by precisely such aspirations, since January 2018, Uzbekistan has
reduced the price of electricity supplied to Afghanistan by almost 45%: to 5
cents per kilowatt, and in July 2019, decreased the cost of the contract for
the construction of the Surkhan-Puli-Khumri power transmission line for USD
Thirdly, the signing of the above-mentioned contract for the supply of
electricity is extremely important in the context of ensuring long-term
stability in Afghanistan, since the peace process launched in Afghanistan
should have a socio-economic basis.
This is due to the fact, that the progressive development of key sectors of
the economy of Afghanistan, the solution unemployment problem of Afghan
people, and providing them with the necessary earnings depend on the level
of electrification of the country. Moreover, the absence of energy,
underdeveloped economy, social sector, the state is threatened with
collapse. Thus, according to the World Bank, while the income of the Afghan
government is about $2-2.5 billion, Afghanistan needs about $10 billion to
cover budgetary needs, of which $4.5 billion in security spending.
Taking this into account, an uninterrupted supply of electricity to
government agencies and national economic entities can have a stabilizing
effect on the security situation in the country. As a result, it will become
a clear example of a peaceful life and economic stability. Therefore, the
construction of the Surkhan-Puli-Khumri power transmission line is supported
by all the opposing sides of Afghanistan - the Afghan government and the
Taliban movement. International financial institutions also support energy
projects of Uzbekistan and have expressed their readiness to participate in
their implementation. In particular, the Asian Development Bank plans to
finance the construction of the Surkhan-Puli-Khumri transmission line. Above
mentioned new agreement forms the legal basis for ADB financing to the
construction of power transmission lines with the involvement of Uzbek
As a result, new jobs will be created for specialists in Uzbekistan, and the
country's companies will acquire international experience.
The implementation of this project will also become a kind of "success
story" for the international community and a proof of the possibility,
provided there is sufficient political will, to implement other promising
projects in Afghanistan.
In turn, the establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan will
increase the investment attractiveness of Central Asia, since the
instability in this country significantly constrains the investment
potential of the entire region.
Thus, agreement on the supply of electricity from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan
has a multiplier effect, which will contribute not only to reaching a new
level of economic ties between the two countries but also to achieving a
feeling of lasting peace in the neighboring country, ensuring stability and
sustainable development in the vast Eurasian space.