Myanmar Boosts Electricity Access Through Off-Grid Solutions

Khant Zaw, director general at the Department of Rural Development (DRD), said US$90 million would be used for implementation of off-grid projects which would run from 2016 to 2021.

Upon completion, the project aims to implement solar home system in 8,400 villages and mini-grid projects in 350 villages that are situated over 10 miles away from the national grid.

“Nearly 100,000 households will benefit from the project that can also provide electricity to 16,000 public buildings and 40,000 streetlights. We will continue our efforts until we reach the nationwide electrification target by 2030,” said the official.

He said more than 80,000 households in 1,300 villages wouldhave access to electricity by solar home system and mini-grid projects would be implemented in 34 villages in 2017-18 fiscal year.

He seems satisfied with the success of the first project year when 97 per cent of the proposed works have been completed.

During 2016-2017 fiscal year, the project has connected solar home systems for 140,000 households in 2,708 villages. Additionally, mini-grid projects were implemented in 10 villages to expand electricity access in remote areas.

According to the official, solar home system has been installed by people’s contribution. For the mini-grid system, the DRD contributed 60 per cent while community and private investors contributed 20 percent each of the total cost. Public facilities were fullyprovided with the compliments of the DRD.

World Bank (WB) statistics show more than 70 percent of Myanmar’s population have no access to electricity. In this respect, the organisation has been working closely with the government to expand the national grid and implement off-grid projects. The Ministry of Energy and Electricity takes care for on-grid projects while theDRD is responsible for off-grid solutions.

WB has approved $400 million for Myanmar’s national electrification project, $310 million of which will go to the expansion of national grid, and the remaining $90 million will be spent for the DRD’s off-grid projects.

The project also assures funding and technical assistance from other development partners including Asian Development Bank, German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), Japan International Cooperation System, German Development Bank (KFW), International Cooperation Development Funds and Italy Soft Loan.

Khant Zaw said international competitive bidding system was used to improve transparency and effectiveness of the projects. He stressed the importance of private investment to ensure success of the national project.

“Even after the completion of this 5-year project, nearly 17,000 villages will still have no access to electricity. So, we need to electrify an average of 1,700 villages every year over the next 10 years,” he said.

“Obviously, it is hard to meet the target if we entirely depend on the government alone. So, private investments are crucial. We will encourage the private sector involvement by result-based financing.”

He said drafting the rules and regulations for the mini-grids in cooperation with GIZ would be completed by the end of December, and would be finally approved by March 2018.

Khin Zaw, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said the government would prioritise on ensuring access to electricity for those who live in remote areas where the national grid does not reach.

“We have found our solar home system and mini-grids really helpful in improving the villagers’ life and their living standards. So, expanding access to electricity would strongly contribute to poverty reduction in Myanmar,” he said.

 

Source: Eleven Myanmar

 

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