As demand for electricity rises in Bangladesh, the country’s first cross-border connection with India is helping address gaps in energy-poor areas and bring economic benefits to both sides of the border.
500 megawatts of power now flow into Bangladesh through its electrical grid interconnection with India. The Asian Development Bank is supporting a second regional project, to be developed under the framework of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation, or SASEC, program to add an additional 500 megawatts of power from India to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is making rapid progress in spreading access to electricity.
More than 70 per cent of the population now has power, up from 47 per cent in 2009.
Each new connection improves lives and creates economic opportunities.
“Until three years ago there was no electricity in our village: summers were really hot and my children’s education suffered because they could only study during daytime,” says Anjona Kar, an entrepreneur from Altapol, a village from the district of Jessore in Bangladesh.
“Money was limited as we had to rely on my husband’s income as carpenter in a factory. When there was no electricity, I was afraid of going out in the dark. I couldn’t even go to the toilet without taking someone along with me.
“After we received an electricity connection, I bought this lathe machine, and my husband taught me how to use it,” continues Kar.
“I would practice after finishing my household chores. After my husband died, I began working full-time and the money I earn helps me run my home.”
As connections expand and the economy grows, demand for energy is rising rapidly.
For Bangladesh, cross-border energy trade is an efficient way to meet demand.
“For the power sector, when India and Bangladesh decided to flow power was a historic moment,” comments Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus, Secretary of the Power Division at Bangladesh’s Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.
“What brings that connectivity? You see that regional integration is possible. I think that is invaluable.
500 megawatts of power now flow into Bangladesh through its electrical grid interconnection with India.
The grid was recently extended to connect eastern Bangladesh to Tripura in India.
“The Bangladesh-India electric grid interconnection project has been very beneficial,” says Mohammed Shamim Hossain, a maintenance engineer.
“It has added value to our national grid.”
The Asian Development Bank is supporting a second regional project that will add an additional 500 megawatts of power from India to Bangladesh.
“This is a major breakthrough for the India-Bangladesh interconnection because this is an opportunity for other countries too,” Masum Al Beruni, Managing Director of the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh.
“They are looking at Bangladesh and India, at what we are doing.”
“This is the first cross-border project with India, and it is the first international project in this sector too,” points out Kazi Istiaque Hasan, a Superintendent Engineer at the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh.
“All things considered, this is a very successful project. And our country has benefitted by importing electricity from India.”
Consumers in Bangladesh now have access to electricity at reduced prices.
“Since receiving electricity, my children study anytime of night or day with the light and fan on,” says Kar.
“In the past, we would sleep early after dark as no work could be done. Now we have more productive hours and I have increased my income. Receiving electricity has transformed our lives and given my children hope of a bright future.