Extending the Power Grid in Central Asia

June 3, 2015

For decades, many residents of Tajikistan’s remote rural areas had power for as few as three hours per day, undermining small business growth and job creation. But Pamir Energy is now providing round-the-clock renewable energy to one of the country's most isolated regions for the first time since 2002.

A $27 million public-private partnership project between the government of Tajikistan, the World Bank, IFC, and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development is financing the operation and management of a system for hydro-power production, transmission, and distribution, as part of a 25-year concession agreement. With the Swiss Government's grant of $9 million, the project also supports the most vulnerable households by providing them with affordable and reliable electricity. 

The impact of this project is hard to over-state. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and a five-year civil war, Tajikistan was devastated. Among the most affected areas was the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). Due to unreliable electricity, schools, hospitals, and businesses were frequently forced to close, especially during winter, undermining development.

Many of the region’s 220,000 residents resorted to wood fuel for their heating and cooking needs during the winter, which decimated 70 percent of the region’s forests. Now, thanks to the Pamir Energy project, more than 86 percent of GBAO residents have 24-hour power. And due to its limited greenhouse gas emissions, Pamir Energy is able to generate revenue by selling carbon credits abroad, helping the company serve as a source of livelihood and skills development, employing more than 630 residents and creating some 200 seasonal jobs.

“Electricity lines are connecting villages that have for the most part never had access to any kind of electricity, and the impact really is incredible," said Daler Jumaev, General Director of Pamir Energy.  "For one thing, being able to keep the lights on after dark means that kids can study at night, and using electric radiators improves respiratory health because families don’t have to rely as much on burning wood for heat."

Pamir Energy is expanding its power generation capacity by rehabilitating small HPPs and connecting them to the grid. It is anticipated that by 2027, Pamir Energy will have invested $50 million in electrical infrastructure, sparking an estimated over $120 million in economic benefits.

In 2008, Pamir Energy began exporting surplus power in the summer months to villages across the border in Afghanistan, supporting homes, businesses, and a local hospital. Some 32,000 people in four Afghan districts now receive low-cost energy 24 hours a day for the first time in history.

On both sides of the border, the renewable energy produced by Pamir Energy has reduced the need to burn trees or use high-polluting diesel generators. The company's long-term plan includes reaching more customers in Afghanistan in an effort to knit together a power grid of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.


June 2015