Afghanistan » Economy

Energy situation in Afghanistan; TUTAP and CASA-1000

Published Date: May 8, 2016

Last week, some civil activists and some politicians protested against rerouting of TUTAP power project. Besides that, practical work over another project (CASA-1000) is also expected to begin on May 12, 2016.

Here you would read about the background of energy sector in Afghanistan, the current and future situation of it, the effects of TUTAP and CASA-1000 on economic and energy situation in Afghanistan and recent disputes over TUTAP power project.

Historical background

Although Afghans used oil and coal as an energy source in the past, but at the end of the 19 century, Amir Abdul Rahman Khan took few steps for utilization of electricity and planted a dynamo that could generate enough electricity for 40 lamps. Later during the reign of Amir Habibbhullah Khan Batteries were used to generate electricity to light the presidential palace. In the same period work on building a hydro power factory in Jabul Saraj was initiated which became ready to operate during Amanullah Khan’s rule. Later “Da Tanwirato Sherkat” was founded which distributed 18 thousand lamp electricity for families in Kabul until 1307[1].

After the Second World War till Soviet Union’s attack on Afghanistan, the Kajaki, Maheepar, Naghlo, Daronta, Grishk, Dehla, Chak-Wardag, Salma and some other dams were built with the cooperation of various countries. But after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Civil War in the country vastly damaged these dams. After 2001, efforts were made to rebuild these dams; but they are not fully activated and thus do not generate electricity that they have the capacity.

The source and production of energy in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has vast sources of energy including water, oil, gas, coal and air. The country has the capacity to generate 223 thousand megawatts of solar energy, 23 thousand megawatts of hydropower, 0.6 thousand megawatts of gas energy and 68 thousand megawatts of wind energy.

Despite its vast capacity to produce energy, Afghanistan cannot produce even two thousand megawatts of electricity inside the country and heavily relies on imported electricity. For instance in 1385, 916.89 million kilowatts/hour of electricity was being produced in the country, (645.97 million kilowatts/hour) of which was hydro energy, (267.37 million kilowatts/hour) thermal energy and (3.56 million kilowatts/hour) was diesel energy. After 1385 these numbers were changing. In 1391 the total energy production of the country was 882.9, in 1392 it reached 1022.3 and in 1393 it was 1049 million kilowatts/hour. (See chart-1)

Besides that, the customers of “Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS)” “the Afghan Electricity Company” was increasing annually. In 1382 the company had 227854 customers but in 1393 it increased to more than a million (1.154798 million)

Chart-1: Energy resources in Afghanistan (Million Kilowatt/hour)

chart-1 Source: Central Statistic Organization (CSO)

Imported electricity

Since 1381, reconstruction began in the country, and work on electricity dams also began (although turbines of some of the dams are not yet fully activated but it still produces a part of the country’s needed electricity.)

Besides that we could import electricity from Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. The statistics of DABS shows that from 2007 to 2015, the company has spent $973 million to import electricity in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, according to Central Statistics Organization, from 1385 to 1393, Afghanistan has spent 41907.4 million Afghanis to supply its needed electricity. According to these statistics, the expenditure of imported electricity has increased on annual basis. For example, in 1385, Afghanistan spent 99.79 million Afghanis to import electricity but in 1393 this number was 10630.4 million Afghanis. (See the chart-2)

Chart-2: the expenditures of imported electricity to Afghanistan (million Afghanis)

chart-2Source: annual reports of the Central Statistic Organization

Given the energy capacity of the country, one can say that if this sector was invested and the country’s energy capacity was used properly, then it would have been an alternative for imported electricity and it would have not been necessary to import electricity spending millions of dollars.

TUTAP and CASA-1000

The TUTAP and CASA-1000 move electricity from Central Asia to South Asia. These projects would not only supply Afghanistan’s need for electricity but Afghanistan would also receive transit fee from Pakistan.

CASA-1000 would transfer 1300 megawatts of electricity from Kirghizstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan and TUTAP would export electricity from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. CASA-1000 project is expected to be inaugurated this week. But the TUTAP project has raised disputes on its route in the country.

Some circles inside and outside the government has threatened to conduct vast demonstration if the lines of TUTAP did not pass through Bamiyan, but this is a technical problem, which should not be politically dealt with, and in this regard politicians must stop pressurizing the Nation Unity Government regarding.

Although according to the surveys of German Engineering Company-Fichtner this power project had to pass through Bamiyan and the company had said that it will be advantageous from this way, because if Chinese activated electricity in “Miss-e-Aynak” copper mine, then it would move electricity through this path to Kabul. The decision to shift the route to Salang was made during the second term of Hamid Karzai when Karim Khalili was the Vice President of Afghanistan, at that time nobody protested; but now that practical work on this project is expected to begin and international donors are ready for financial support, these disputes are raised and some politicians also joined these disputes; it should be noted that these disputes come at a time while the NUG is facing with many challenges.

If TUTAP route is changed now; it will have the following negative outcomes:

  • Its implementation would be delayed for at least two years.
  • The expenditures of the surveys and researches conducted on Salang route will be wasted.
  • Shifting the route from Salang to Bamiyan will extend the length of the project from 80-120 km further.
  • Due to extension of the route, the expenditures will raise (such as line and building substations and etc)
  • Current political tensions caused by the project may discourage international investor from investing in long term projects in the future.
  • The current situation will attract the government’s attention and will expand the conflict in the country.

On the other hand, the Afghan government must pay attention to fundamental demands of Bamiyan people and must supply the needed electricity of Bamiyan through Charikar or some other ways.

[1] Habibullah Rafi, de Tamadun Sawghat (the gift of civilization), Peshawar: ARIC electronic Administration, 1378, page 10-12.

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