The United States Agency for International Development - the government agency coordinating US aid projects - is studying plans to upgrade the 50-year-old Kajaki hydro dam in Afghanistan's northern Helmand province.
US officials estimate that upgrade work on the 91m high dam will cost US$150M during its first year and up to US$500M in total. The project will include the construction of a 88.5km long road to the dam through Taliban-held country, the installation of an additional turbine and the building of new transmission lines and substations to bring electricity to 1.7M people in southern Afghanistan. The access road is required to transport the turbine and heavy generation equipment.
It has been estimated that more than 4000 jobs will be created at the height of construction.
Previous foreign assistance to Kajaki, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, include repairs to one of the two turbines installed at the dam in 1975, bringing it back up to its full 18MW capacity. Other completed works at the dam include repairs to the power station crane and construction camps for foreign workers and guards.