New cooperation to bring energy to rural Afghanistan

Aug 11, 2011

A shop linked to the electricity grid in Bazarak, Panjshir. (Photo: Heidi Carrubba)

An Indian technology innovator will support efforts in Afghanistan to extend the reach of the national electricity grid beyond its current urban focus.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), headquartered in New Delhi, has reached an agreement with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to advise on solutions for bringing energy to the majority of the rural population.

The agreement between TERI and the Ministry was reached earlier this year under an initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which drew on its network of experts to find a partner that could provide the assistance required.

“Any development has to be driven by the provision of energy,” said TERI Director-General Rajendra K. Pachauri,  who won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former United States Vice-President Al Gore for their work on environmental issues.  “Whatever we do has to be sustainable.”

TERI has extensive experience in energy projects, such as in India where more than 80 million people have gained access to electricity in the past five years.

While Afghanistan has never had power coverage for much more than one-fifth of its population, decades of war and natural disasters have left only 15 percent of the country connected to the electricity grid. Nearly 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas.

UNDP’s rural development projects – which have worked to improve agricultural productivity and commerce through, for example, repairs to damaged roads and irrigation canals - have already brought electricity to more than 10,000 homes.

Alternative energy projects, including micro-hydropower plants, have brought power to 97,897 people who use it for lighting, communications and running business.

The TERI and UNDP collaboration will also prioritize renewable sources in national energy planning.

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