Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Electricity Disorder: A Never-Ending Problem in Afghanistan

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Electricity Disorder: A Never-Ending  Problem in Afghanistan

Despite numerous potential resources for electric energy production in Afghanistan, it still suffers from electricity shortage. The current electric power which is imported from neighboring countries such as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Iran do not satisfy the needs of people though we pay around 300 million dollar to the mentioned countries. As a result, the families, local companies, businesses and health centers are all suffering from the power shortage.  Kabul, as a large developing city of Afghanistan, with nearly 7 million population needs around 700mega watt power but it receives nearly 300 mega watt power for the whole families, government offices, ministries, producing companies, business and health centers, and so on. Several years ago, Da Brishna Company, which is a responsible company for providing electric power in the country, had promised to solve the problem but nothing has changed yet. Therefore, the electric power has changed to a chorionic issue which extremely obsesses public opinion in the country.
The power shortages in large cities have not only created grave difficulties to families but also to the economy and environment of the country. People have no alternatives other than using coal fuel for heating houses and business centers in large cities. As a consequence, several large cities of the country have been changed to the most polluted city of the world. In fact, the air-pollution is the direct outcome of clean energy shortage and considered more dangerous than the terrorists’ threats in the country, especially in large cities such as Kabul. It means, if we compare the death tolls caused by terrorists and air-pollution, there is not much difference between the two factors. Additionally, as aforementioned, it has a lot of negative impact on local economy. In recent years, many companies either stopped working or not dared to start working due to electric shortage and power disorder in the country. For example, very few people dare to invest in building cold room in the country due to power issue and so the local fruits and vegetables are whether perished or sold at low price to outsiders and then a few months later come back to country with a higher price.
There are different factors and variables why the problem still persists despite receiving a lot of financial assistance from international community in fields of power project. Some of very common factors which normally mentioned in the media community consist of insecurity, poor power management, insufficient human capacity, decrease of water in some cases, natural disaster or snow-slippage in Salang-way, increase of power usage in winter seasons, not paying electricity bill by mighty people, corruption and so on. This article is going to highlight two of the main factors which also plays supportive role in enhancement of other factors.
The first and most important factor is insecurity issue that affected everything including electricity projects. During the recent years, the terrorist groups have successively destroyed the importing electricity pillar with darkening several large cities of the country. This issue has not only affected many households and business centers but also affected the service provider. Instead of initiating new developing plan for expansion of electricity, Da Brishna Company needed to spend lot of money for repairing power facilities which were destroyed by the terrorists groups. Given the establishment of power in rough and rocky areas of the country, sometimes it took months to repair a single line which was destroyed within a second with triggering a weapon switch while millions of people were in absolute darkness. In fact, the insecurity has impacted everything and Afghan people are extremely tired and angry due to the endless war. However, Afghan people are ready to tolerate the darkness but not dark mentality. They will not be ready to sell the democratic values and achievement at cheap price. They believe that reconciliation with terrorist groups should be handled from position of strength, not from position of appeasement and weakness.
The next most important factor is poor power management in the country. According to experts, there is no clear and evidence-based prospect in energy sector and this has led to slow growth in the sector and also created ground for corruption. It is said that Afghanistan has the capacity to produce about 380gega watt (380000 mega watt) power while after two decades we could not succeed to exploit at least 1% of the whole potential resources. Recently, Integrity Watch Afghanistan also blamed the company for inability.  “Low human and institutional capacity, interference, contradictions in polices and missions, ambiguity in role of ministries and international development partners, discrepancy in development partners’ plans and government’s needs are among challenges that exist in the energy sector,” report quoted from IWA’s director Syed Ikram Afzali.
By and large, we need to seek fundamental solution to end to the electricity chronic issue in the country. In short term, we can advise people not to use heavy electric tools, use LED lamps and help the government officials in case of corruption issues. In longer term, we need to move towards self sufficiency; there are numerous natural resources such as water, solar, coal, gas, wind and so on, to suffice our domestic needs. Indeed, if we succeed to exploit only 5% of our potential resources, it will satisfy the whole national requirements. However, everyone is aware about financial limitedness of the government but the government can pave the way for investment of private sectors to produce power inside the country. Meanwhile, the international allies are expected to take more parts in the field of the power production inside the country.  

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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