fbpx 49116-002: Renewable Energy for the Nationwide Telecommunications Project | Asian Development Bank

Myanmar: Renewable Energy for the Nationwide Telecommunications Project

Nonsovereign (Private) Project | 49116-002 Status: Dropped / Terminated

The proposed technical assistance (TA) will improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Myanmar telecom sector by demonstrating the benefits of renewable energy technologies and by reducing reliance on expensive diesel fuel. The TA will enhance the private sectors participation in delivering public benefits such as reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy access, and strengthening institutional and human resource capacities. Particular emphasis will be placed on training and capacity building of women staff of both private and public sector stakeholders. The TA will pilot rural and community-based business models for access to energy, and increase the social and environmental impact and inclusiveness of ADBs investment.

Project Details

Project Officer
Hong, Won Myong Private Sector Operations Department Request for information
Country
  • Myanmar
Sector
  • Energy
 
Project Name Renewable Energy for the Nationwide Telecommunications Project
Project Number 49116-002
Borrower/Company
Country Myanmar
Location Nation-wide
Type or Modality of Assistance
8921 Technical Assistance USD 1.00 million Proposed
Strategic Agendas Environmentally sustainable growth
Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Knowledge solutions
Partnerships
Sector / Subsector

Energy / Electricity transmission and distribution

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Some gender elements
Responsible ADB Department Private Sector Operations Department
Responsible ADB Division Portfolio Management Division, PSOD
Responsible ADB Officer Hong, Won Myong
Project Sponsor(s)
Description The proposed technical assistance (TA) will improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Myanmar telecom sector by demonstrating the benefits of renewable energy technologies and by reducing reliance on expensive diesel fuel. The TA will enhance the private sectors participation in delivering public benefits such as reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy access, and strengthening institutional and human resource capacities. Particular emphasis will be placed on training and capacity building of women staff of both private and public sector stakeholders. The TA will pilot rural and community-based business models for access to energy, and increase the social and environmental impact and inclusiveness of ADBs investment. Access to affordable telecommunication and energy services through telecom towers powered by renewable energy can boost the productivity of rural households and help improve their livelihoods while also reducing their vulnerability to health hazards caused by the use of fossil fuels.
Objectives and Scope The proposed technical assistance (TA) will improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Myanmar telecom sector by demonstrating the benefits of renewable energy technologies and by reducing reliance on expensive diesel fuel. The TA will enhance the private sectors participation in delivering public benefits such as reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy access, and strengthening institutional and human resource capacities. Particular emphasis will be placed on training and capacity building of women staff of both private and public sector stakeholders. The TA will pilot rural and community-based business models for access to energy, and increase the social and environmental impact and inclusiveness of ADBs investment. Access to affordable telecommunication and energy services through telecom towers powered by renewable energy can boost the productivity of rural households and help improve their livelihoods while also reducing their vulnerability to health hazards caused by the use of fossil fuels.

1. Given the low electrification rates, unreliable electricity supply from the grid, high cost of diesel-based operation of towers, and high renewable energy potential in Myanmar, hybrid solutions based on renewable energy to power telecommunication towers can be cost-saving, low-emission alternatives for the country. In several cases, such hybrid solutions can be great alternatives to unreliable grid electricity as well.

2. Telecom infrastructure in most developing countries in Asia is known to be inefficient and consume significant amounts of diesel fuel. Many of these countries' regulators are now attempting to bring renewable energy to these networks, but it is proving to be a challenging proposition because large numbers of telecom towers have already been deployed with diesel generators. Given that a major part of Myanmar's telecom network is yet to be rolled out, a unique opportunity exists to build an efficient and clean telecom infrastructure powered by renewable energy.

3. However, Myanmar's low electrification rates and unreliable supply from the grid, where available, make the installation of telecom infrastructure by the newly licensed mobile operators challenging, particularly in rural areas. Also, operating telecom towers in both rural and urban areas on diesel generators is expensive (given that the country imports all of its diesel requirement) and poses the logistical challenge of transporting diesel across Myanmar, where transport infrastructure is underdeveloped. It adds significant additional delivery costs to the base price of diesel. Based on experience from other countries in Asia, such as Cambodia, India, and Indonesia, telecom towers located in off-grid areas operate on-site diesel generators for 16 18 hours a day on average, and run on batteries for the remaining hours of the day. Towers in unreliable grid areas run on grid power for 8 10 hours a day, on diesel for 8 10 hours, and on batteries for the remaining hours of the day. All telecom towers in Myanmar, including those in on-grid and urban areas, are likely to face power cuts for some hours of the day.

4. The telecom industry's dependence on diesel will be a major economic hurdle for the country it will likely deepen Myanmar's trade deficit and increase carbon emissions, which in turn will aggravate the problem of climate change in the country.

5. The proposed technical assistance (TA) will be processed in parallel to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan for the Nationwide Telecommunications Project. It will improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Myanmar telecom sector by demonstrating the benefits of renewable energy technologies and by reducing reliance on expensive diesel fuel. The TA will enhance the private sector's participation in delivering public benefits such as reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy access, and strengthening institutional and human resource capacities. Particular emphasis will be placed on training and capacity building of women staff of both private and public sector stakeholders. The TA will also identify and assess the feasibility of investments in clean energy by the Nationwide Telecommunications Project and other industry stakeholders. The TA will further pilot rural and community-based business models for access to energy, and increase the social and environmental impact and inclusiveness of ADB's investment. Access to affordable telecommunication and energy services through telecom towers powered by renewable energy can boost the productivity of rural households and help improve their livelihoods while also reducing their vulnerability to health hazards caused by the use of fossil fuels. The pilot locations will prioritize states vulnerable to conflict, such as Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan.

6. Lessons learned will be shared with all other market participants both from the public and private sector and with government regulators and policymakers such as Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE). Technical findings and resource assessments will be used to replicate and scale up the use of renewable energy technologies by all mobile operators and telecom tower infrastructure providers from both the public and private sectors. The overarching goal of this TA is to create data-intensive knowledge products based on field experience, demonstrate viability through pilots, disseminate knowledge and findings among telecom industry players, regulators, and policymakers, and build their capacity. This will help create a favorable ecosystem that will enable large-scale deployment of renewable energy technologies for telecom towers in Myanmar.

7. A detailed assessment will be conducted under this TA, the feasibility of such renewable energy installations for telecom towers will be established, and pilot installations will be made before any further significant investment is committed. These activities, in addition to the piloting of community-based energy access models, require significant resources that will be deployed in challenging and remote areas. The TA is hence justified given its developmental impact, demonstration and replication effect, and potential to create a favorable policy and regulatory framework. Also, given Myanmar's low levels of skills and knowledge on telecom network infrastructure and renewable energy solutions, both the private and public sectors will benefit significantly from the knowledge and experience of international consultants to be engaged under this TA.

8. Findings and experience from this TA can be used to replicate and scale up investments in renewable energy for telecom towers. Private sector investors in the telecom sector can replicate the TA renewable energy models for telecom towers across the country if the pilots prove successful. Investment opportunities identified by this TA can assist ADB in achieving its institutional target of investing $2 billion annually in clean energy. Similar TA activities by International Finance Corporation (IFC) resulted in over $170 million of private sector investments by IFC and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (the development finance institution of the Government of the United States) to scale up the deployment of solar energy for telecom towers in India in 2010 and 2011. Any such future investment can provide access to targeted, long-term, affordable financing and leverage capital from mobile operators and telecom tower infrastructure providers, thus eliminating one of the key barriers to large-scale renewable energy deployment in the country.

9. The viability of business and operating models for the opportunity to deploy renewable energy for telecom towers and foster communities' access to energy is not yet proven in Myanmar and hence, public and private mobile operators are reluctant to invest in this opportunity on a large scale. The proposed TA is justified because its feasibility studies and demonstration effect can convince mobile operators, private investors, and development institutions such as ADB to commit capital to the scaling-up of such installations. The TA places specific emphasis on training and capacity building of local employees, suppliers, government agencies, and other industry stakeholders, given the significant need in Myanmar to build local skills and capacities. It will focus on building local capacity for conducting feasibility studies and resource assessments, designing community solutions for access to energy (using design software such as HOMER), preparing replication guides, and managing procurement planning and installations, as well as operation and maintenance. Training modules will be gender sensitive, and women employees of stakeholder organizations will be encouraged to participate in these activities.

Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Safeguard Categories
Environment
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
Timetable for assistance design, processing and implementation
Concept Clearance -
Credit Committee Meeting -
Approval -
Last PDS Update 12 Mar 2018

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