Sunday, February 01, 2009

Uzbek electricty to Kabul

News that Uzbekistan is supplying electricity to Afghanistan is important. MOre sign that the infrastructural relations are getting established, so far.

Reuters India reports:
Afghans see capital city in a new light
Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:04pm IST

By Jonathon Burch

KABUL (Reuters) - For most people in the Afghan capital Kabul, electricity used to be something of a luxury, but thanks to neighbouring Uzbekistan many homes now enjoy almost uninterrupted power.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Three decades of war have destroyed what little infrastructure existed and, despite millions of dollars of aid, progress has been slow.

Only about 7 percent of the country's population has access to electricity, according to 2007 government figures, and Afghan energy distribution ranks among the lowest in the world at under 20 kWh per capita.

But a new power line from Uzbekistan began transmitting electricity to Kabul less than a week ago as part of an Afghan long-term energy development strategy.

"Five days ago we started receiving 20 MW (megawatts) from Uzbekistan and today we will start receiving another 20 MW," Engineer Wahid Qayum, in charge of electricity provision for the entire country, told Reuters.

"We are now able to provide 180 MW of power to Kabul at peak times, and 160 MW at other times," Qayum said.

The total still falls well short of the 300 MW that Kabul needs, but the new transmission line, jointly funded by India and the Asian Development Bank, will gradually increase output over the next couple of months, Qayum said.

In two months the new line is expected to deliver 150 MW of power, 120 MW of which will be allocated to Kabul and the remaining 30 MW to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

"In two months, all of Kabul will have 24-hour electricity," Qayum said.


While some homes in the city are still without electricity and others are subject to power cuts because of load sharing agreements, the increase in power has already made a difference to many ordinary Afghans.

Rohullah, a television shop owner in Kabul's central shopping district, told Reuters sales had never been better.

"Business has increased by 50 percent in the last five days," said a smiling Rohullah. "I used to sell two or three televisions a day. For the last few days I have sold four to five a day."

Abdul Hafiz and his wife, wearing her all-enveloping burqa, stand outside one of the many shops with their newly bought 17-inch colour television.

"We had a black and white television but now we came to buy a colour one because we have more electricity," said Hafiz. Asked what the increased electricity supply means to him, he says he is very happy.

"Electricity is very important for us. Everywhere is getting brighter and lighter. I only hope the security situation will also get brighter," he said.

Sayed Najib, however, sits alone among the bustling television shops, his head leaning against the wall of his store -- which sells electric generators.

"Business has decreased, maybe by 80 percent," said Najib. "I think in the future I'll start selling televisions."

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