Afghanistan’s efforts to restore electricity to underserved citizens improved dramatically with the approval of a new energy agreement with Uzbekistan in October 2018.
Uzbekistan’s national energy company, Uzbekenergo, will help modernize Afghanistan’s electrical grid by building a $150 million transmission line from Surkhan in Uzbekistan to Puli-Khumri in northern Afghanistan.
Although Uzbekistan has supplied Afghanistan with electricity since 2002, connections have been insufficient to cover the whole country. In 2017, Afghanistan signed a contract with Uzbekistan to buy nearly 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and have transmitted some of that power through lines in Tajikistan.
Central Asian states have increasingly integrated their electrical networks and await infrastructure improvements to sell more of their surplus power to Afghanistan.
Uzbekenergo sees itself as a hub of a regional power grid that can supply electricity to underserved areas. It estimates the new Afghan power lines could boost Uzbek electricity exports by 70 percent.
From the point of view of the government in Kabul, providing critical services to distant provinces would help unite a country in which extremists like the Taliban try to incite popular discontent.
The new power line to Afghanistan would also allow the Hairatan-Mazar-i-Sharif railroad between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to switch from diesel to electric locomotives, reducing the cost of cargo.
Sources: Novosti Uzbekistana, Eurasia Daily, Trend News Agency