Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Today the economy of Afghanistan is undergoing a serious crisis. In this context, the efforts of the Central Asian countries in restoring stability in Afghanistan through concrete plans to expand mutually beneficial and much-needed cooperation in the field of electricity are especially important, since the acute shortage of electricity impedes both the social and economic development of Afghanistan.
Earlier, the Wall Street Journal predicted the termination of electricity supply to Afghanistan due to problems in paying debts. However, so far none of the Central Asian countries, which are the main suppliers of electricity to Kabul, have suspended supplies. Moreover, Uzbekistan assured that the obligations on the part of Uzbekistan will be fulfilled in accordance with the previously reached agreements, despite the presence of debt.
In addition, in an interview published today with the Deputy Minister of Energy of Uzbekistan Sh. Khodjaev, he said that the coming to power of the Taliban allowed stabilizing the supply of electricity from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan. Sh. Khodjayev said: “It is noteworthy, and it must be admitted, that the change in the political situation in Afghanistan has had a positive impact on the energy sector of our country. Before that, there were frequent cases of terrorist acts in Afghanistan, explosions of power grids, for the restoration of which the Afghan power engineers spent a lot of effort, money and time. Today, we believe that these problems have been completely eliminated because the supply of electricity is steady.”
Uzbekistan electricity supplies to Afghanistan
Uzbekistan, along with other Central Asian countries, is the main and reliable electricity supplier to Afghanistan. Thus, in 2019, the Uzbek National Electric Networks JSC and the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat Holding (DABS) signed a contract to supply the Afghan company with up to 6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually for 10 years. The data for the last 20 years show that the volume of supplies from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan has increased more than 40 times.
Especially, the implementation of the project for the construction of the Surkhan-Pul-e-Khumri power line will increase the export of Uzbek electricity to Afghanistan by 70% and connect Afghanistan to the unified energy system of Central Asia. It is noteworthy that this project in the future will become an organic part of another large-scale regional initiative in the field of electricity “СASA-1000”, which provides for the annual supply of more than 5kWh of electricity from Central Asian countries to Pakistan through Afghanistan.
In addition, the implementation of the Surkhan-Pul-e-Khumri project became one of the main topics of the recent meeting of the Taliban delegation with Uzbekistan, which took place on October 16. During the meeting, special attention was paid to cooperation in the field of energy and international cargo transportation, which confirms the efforts of Uzbekistan in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan through implementing large infrastructure and energy projects.
Afghanistan is currently in a difficult economic situation and has a huge need for electricity, which is well understood by the countries of Central Asia. Thus, the Central Asian countries give priority attention to the development of cooperation with Afghanistan in the field of trade, transport and the involvement of this country in regional energy projects, which creates conditions for the formation of a socio-economic basis for the peace process in neighboring Afghanistan. Because a peaceful and stable Afghanistan will make it possible to fully realize the potential of trans-regional cooperation, ensure connectivity in the vast expanse of Eurasia, and turn Afghanistan into a bridge between South and Central Asia.