The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $110m grant in Afghanistan to boost power supply and to strengthen the country’s energy sector.

The grant is also expected help in promoting cross-border trade in energy.

With the grant, Afghanistan will be able to double the volume of power imports to address the chronic power shortage, while ensuring the long-term cost-competitiveness of electricity.

ADB’s grant is also expected to facilitate Afghan system’s first parallel operation with the Uzbek system and the Central Asia Power System (CAPS).

When complete, the project will offer customers improved access to electricity. It could also add 500,000 new connections to households, commercial entities and industrial customers.

ADB grant to support construction of 201km long transmission line

The grant will support the construction of 201km long, 500kV overhead transmission line from the Surkhan substation in Uzbekistan to the Khwaja-Alwan substation in Afghanistan.

Considered to be a key interconnection node, it will receive power from three countries including Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Under a 10-year power purchase and sales agreement signed in August 2020 by the Afghanistan and Uzbekistan governments, the transmission project will enable Uzbek power into the Afghan grid.

To meet its domestic energy needs, Afghanistan primarily depends on energy imports from neighbouring countries.

Still, only about 34% of the country’s population has access to grid-connected electricity, even though a significant progress has been made since 2002.

ADB Energy Specialist Nana Gurgenidze said: “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.”