Opening remarks by Shixin Chen, ADB Vice President (Operations 1), at the Bishkek International Energy Forum, 8 April 2022
Honorable Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Mr. Akylbek Japarov; Honorable Minister of Energy, Mr. Doskul Bekmurzaev; Dear World Bank Vice President Anna Bjerde; Ladies and gentlemen, a very good morning to you.
Reflections on the current situation
Let me begin by commending the Kyrgyz Republic’s economic recovery despite recurring waves of the pandemic and other challenges.
Turning to the topic of today’s forum, I would also like to compliment the Kyrgyz Government’s ambitious National Determined Contributions (NDCs) made in September 2021, which commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 16% under the business as usual (BAU) scenario, and by more than 43% subject to international support.
The Kyrgyz Republic has one of the greenest power sectors worldwide with more than 90% of its electricity generated from hydropower.
Despite its vast endowment of untapped renewable energy resources, the Kyrgyz energy sector has experienced significant challenges over the past decades. These include the supply-demand deficit of electricity, impaired energy security, deteriorating operational performance due to aging infrastructure, and limited investments to unlock the country’s considerable renewable energy resources.
It is therefore timely that the Kyrgyz Government has organized this International Energy Forum to share its vision and strategies with development partners and International Financial Institutions (IFIs). ADB has also actively supported the country’s energy development, aligning with the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program’s (CAREC) Energy Strategy 2030, and ADB’s new Energy Policy.
Supporting the sustainable development of the Kyrgyz Republic’s energy sector
To ensure the sustainable development of the Kyrgyz Republic’s energy sector, allow me to share four points.
First, regional connectivity. Regional integration which enables cross-border energy markets and more interconnected infrastructure is key. Hydropower resources in the Kyrgyz Republic can be developed to provide clean, inexpensive energy to markets downstream in the Central and West Asia region – which reduces the dependence on fossil fuels. ADB supports the development of a least-cost power generation expansion plan, which should be well-coordinated with a transmission and distribution system master plan and promote regional power trading.
Second, environment sustainability. We cannot forget that Kyrgyz Republic is one of the region’s most vulnerable countries to climate change. It clearly requires reducing energy sector emissions, but we must ensure the resilience of energy infrastructure and change the way we produce and consume energy.
Today approximately 50% of Kyrgyz Republic’s power generation capacity is beyond its useful lifetime with transmission and distribution losses amounting to 6% and 12% respectively.
The Kyrgyz Republic is one of the most energy-intensive economies worldwide. Energy efficiency should be a highly economical option for improving the sector’s performance without requiring substantial cost and time. Long-term strategies should be developed to improve energy efficiency in industrial, commercial, and residential sectors.
Third, private sector participation. Enormous public and private investment is required for the transition to a green, inclusive, and resilient economy, including hydropower. It is critical to build an enabling environment for the private sector to play its role in this energy transition by removing policy and regulatory barriers. For instance, an updated renewable energy law is required to attract private investment, while public private partnerships (PPPs) for solar, wind and hydro should be promoted.
Fourth, enhancing inclusivity. We must carefully assess impacts to energy consumers and communicate these in full. Reforms will only be considered successful if they yield visible benefits to consumers. Special attention should be paid to protecting the most vulnerable, with careful consideration given to safety nets to protect their livelihoods. Poorly targeted and cost-intensive lifeline tariffs, which disproportionately benefit wealthy consumers should be reformed, while simultaneously strengthening the social safety net to better protect vulnerable customers.
ADB continues to expand its support for the low carbon transition in Asia and the Pacific under its new Energy Policy. ADB is planning to deliver $100 billion climate financing to our developing member countries from 2019-2030. Our financing helps developing Asia attract more climate investment by mitigating uncertainty and risk and removing barriers including lack of enabling policies and capacity.
As a strong, long-standing partner of the Kyrgyz Government, ADB is committed to supporting the Kyrgyz Government in the development and implementation of a reform agenda that ensures the sustainable development of the energy sector.
In this regard, I am pleased to share the fact that ADB has been supporting the government with preparation of the “Power Sector Master Plan” and has identified a project pipeline of large- and small-scale hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 4,500 megawatts.
ADB will also actively support the Government’s plan to develop solar and wind power generation projects, promote private sector participation, and support innovative technologies, including floating solar and electric buses among others.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope this Forum can be a venue for us to bond and energize our support to the Kyrgyz Government to help achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future for its people.
Finally, I would like to thank the Kyrgyz Government for hosting this important event and wish our partners and all forum participants a successful and fruitful Forum.
Thank you very much.