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Tajikistan, Pakistan Discuss Electricity Exports

Hydropower is seen as having the potential to address Tajikistan's chronic power shortages, and also provide enough for export.
ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani and Tajik officials are discussing the possibility of sending electricity from Tajikistan to Pakistan -- both countries that suffer chronic power shortages, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Ambassador to Pakistan Zubaidullo Zubaidov met with the head of the upper house of Pakistan's parliament, Fahmida Mirzo, in Islamabad on January 2 to talk about the CASA 1000 project, which is backed by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank and aims to bring electricity from hydropower plants in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The project is expected to generate some 1,000-1,300 megawatts per year for export to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Zubaidov said Tajikistan would like to start exporting electricity to Pakistan within the framework of CASA 1000 but is trying to complete work on the Tajik part of the project.

An estimated $950 million is still required to fund the project. About 25 percent of that amount ($251 million) is needed to build power transmission lines in Tajikistan.

Looking To Hydropower

Tajik authorities have said previously that the massive Roghun hydropower plant would need to be operational for Tajikistan to supply the electricity called for under the CASA 1000 project.

But the controversial Roghun project has run into obstacles -- including a lack of funding and strong objections from neighboring Uzbekistan over its concerns that creating a reservoir for the Roghun dam will lead to water shortages that would negatively affect Uzbekistan agriculture.

The World Bank has done an environmental study on the Roghun project but has not yet released the findings.

In December, Tajik and Afghan officials discussed construction of the Sanobod hydropower project, which would generate some 100 MW of electricity per year. Reports mentioned Pakistan was interested in importing up to 50 percent of the electricity from Sanobod when it's completed.

Pakistan suffers from chronic energy shortages and has been seeking more sources of oil, natural gas, and electricity. Pakistani media report that the country faces a daily electricity shortage of about 7,000 MW.

Although northern Pakistan does not have many industrial enterprises, there is a large need for electricity for domestic use, as power outages in some areas can reach up to 14 hours a day.

Tajikistan itself often faces chronic power shortages and often has to introduce rationing to some parts of the country during the winter months.

Read more in Tajik here and more in Russian here