The government requested ADB to finance the Gereshk Electricity Services Improvement Project. Gereshk, with a population of approximately 70,000, is a district economic center in Helmand province in soutern Afghanistan, where insurgency has been significantly active. Gereshk is strategically located on the national highway (Corridor 1) that connects Herat to Kandahar. With the stability being regained, the government would like to restore the licit livelihood of the town residents and functions of the town as the district economic center. However, the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing hydropower plant is needed to make more power available in Gereshk. Upgrading and expansion of electricity distribution infrastructure and end-user connections are likewise necessary to increase the access to electricity. In addition, enhancement of DABS'' capacity is required to implement the project and improve operation and maintenance of the system.
The impact of the project will be better power supply in areas south of Kabul. The project will increase access to more reliable power supply in Gereshk. The project outcome will be increased hydropower generation capacity in Gereshk.
The project will rehabilitate and upgrade the Gereshk power supply system. It will increase household connections from 2,500 to 5,000 covering 50,000 people residing within the 6 km radius of the town center. With increased installed generation capacity and upgraded distribution system, the project will improved the access to more stable electricity.
The project will include the following components to improve and expand the Gereshk distribution system and strengthen DABS operational capacity. Physical component of the project will include: (i) rehabilitation and upgrading of hydropower plant with 4.8 MW installation capacity; (ii) replacement of 10 km of 3.3 kV distribution lines to 20 kV line; and (iii) replacement and new installation of end-user meters. Non-physical component will enhance DABS project implementation and operation and maintenance capacities.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The access to reliable power supply is severely limited in Gereshk. The estimated population of Gereshk District is 70,000, out of which 50,000 people, or 5,000 households, reside within the 6 km radius of the town center. Presently only about 2,500 households have connections to the local electricity distribution system, while 5,000 households claim to await new connections. Some have their own diesel generators which are too expensive for the mass and the poor. Even for those connected to the electricity network, chronic load shedding during both the morning and evening peak hours means that most receive only a few hours of power supply a day and the existing infrastructure does not allow continued access to power. Power shortage is a critical impediment in promoting licit private sector development, ensuring quality public services, and improving living conditions in Gereshk.
The limited access to reliable power is attributed to the power infrastructure deficiency. Gereshk presently relies on an island electrical grid with power generated predominantly by an old and damaged run-of-river type hydro power plant. The hydro power plant has an installed capacity of 3.2 MW, but operates sub-optimally with 2 MW from two generating sets, although there is space available for a third unit. The peak demand is estimated at 8 MW. The distribution network consists of a combination of 40 kV and 3.3 kV system, which is not efficient and not capable of distributing any increase in the generated output. Further, the distribution network is in a poor state of repair with problems on support structures, transformers, substations and low voltage customer connections. DABS does not have the capacity nor resources to rehabilitate the infrastructure on its own.
Immediate improvement of the electricity services in Gereshk is critical for not just of the people in Gereshk, but also for the Government and the international community. Gereshk is located in the heart of Helmand where insurgency has been active. The Government needs the supports of the community to bring in peace and stability in the region. But people in Gereshk are generally skeptical of the Government considering it has done little for the community in the past. Winning the hearts and minds of people in Gereshk is one of the key successful factors for stability. The improvement of the electricity services will be the largest investment ever to be engaged by the Government for decades. Increasing access to electricity will not by itself achieve it but is expected to contribute to such cause.
The solution to the Gereshk electricity services challenges needs a combination of investments, capacity building, strategic coordination, and stakeholder consultations. The investment components address the generation capacity by rehabilitating and upgrading the ailing existing hydropower plant. Investment is also required to strengthen, improve, and expand the distribution facilities to increase access to power with improved efficiency. An opportunity will be provided to DABS staff to undertake the installation works of the distribution component as a part of capacity building. Coordination and consultations with key stakeholders will be important given that the Project will be implemented in a difficult environment.
The Project which aims at increasing access to reliable power is in line with the energy sector strategy under the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), the Government strategic platform for development during 2008-2020. The Project is in line with the ADB's Country Partnership Strategy (2009-2013) for Afghanistan identifies the rehabilitation and upgrading of existing infrastructure as priority in the energy sector. It is also consistent with ADB's Strategy 2020 and ADB Energy Policy (2009) by promoting inclusive growth, energy security, and supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy. It will allow ADB to apply its significant sector expertise as well as lessons learned from previous tranches and elsewhere.
DABS is the key instrument for the sector reform to improve the efficiency and the governance of the sector. DABS was corporatized in May 2008 as a vertically integrated power utility to succeed the functions of DABM which was under MEW. Despite some delay, the power sector reform is on-going. After an agreement was reached between MEW and DABS in September 2009, DABM's assets and personnel were finally transferred to DABS on 20 March 2010. During the next five years of the post-transition period, DABS needs to strengthen its capacity to be fully operational. The momentum for the sector reform driven by the creation of DABS as a financially sustainable commercial utility needs continued supports by the donor community.