Norway, ADB to fund Myanmar’s expanding power needs

Norway is to contribute a US$850,000 technical assistance grant in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank to help update Myanmar’s 30-year old electricity law as part of initial steps towards meeting the nation’s expanding power needs, reports the Myanmar Times.

Norway’s foreign affairs minister, Mr Espen Barth Eide, said the grant would help bring the country’s law up to international standards.

The minister made the remarks during consultations on the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan at the Myanmar Tourism Federation office in Yangon on November 5, now his third visit to the country.

“Development cannot be achieved without access to electricity. Having an updated electricity law, putting it into practice and conducting initial capacity building on the principles of electricity regulation are essential for the development of Myanmar’s power sector, and an important contribution to the development of Myanmar’s economy and the welfare of its people,” he told participants.

The drafting of the legislation and related rules and regulations will be carried out by the Ministry of Electric Power in conjunction with other government departments, the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians, and development partners, with completion targeted for June 2014.

“As the country opens up and economic sanctions are removed, huge numbers of visitors are pouring into the country. The local population can now more readily buy household electrical appliances, and local businesses are expanding rapidly. All this has placed an enormous strain on the power supply network, which is often unreliable in urban centres and barely extends to Myanmar’s rural areas,” he said.

According to the ADB, the Norwegian grant will be used to help update Myanmar’s 1984 electricity law.

Mr Stephen Groff, president of operations for the ADB’s East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said: “The development and implementation of a national electricity law is the first step to meeting the country’s power needs.”

The aim will be to unbundle generation, transmission, and distribution subsectors, allow private-sector participation in power generation, establish rules and regulations for small independent power producers to promote off-grid electrification, implement rural electrification programs and establish a regulatory authority consistent with internationally recognised best practices.

The ADB said the grant was made possible by the government’s recognition that foreign direct investment is needed to meet the massive costs involved with developing the power sector, and that the lack of a comprehensive and transparent regulatory framework is impeding private-sector participation in the power sector.

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