- By Ti Kyi Maung
Insufficiency of electricity, shortage of infrastructures including transportation and communication and lack of strengthened policies are being pointed out by most of the entrepreneurs from abroad who would to invest in Myanmar. Lack of strengthened policies can be amended in a short period of time but it will take time and efficient investments to fulfill the need of power supply and better infrastructures.
Beneficial for multi-sectors
In building up our nation which is still full of many requirements into an economically developed country, it must be prioritized to revitalize the economic status of every individual. For the economic development it also needs to urgently implement investments in the sector of infrastructure including the projects of electricity. It is necessary for the State Government to make unconventional approach so as to get out of the vicious circle. Here, unconventional approach is none other than consideration through methods beneficial for multi purposes.
On study of the electricity sector in Myanmar, it has been learnt that there have been electricity consumed by machines estimated at 5389 megawatts and 17866 billion watt hours [GWh]. In 2030, power requirement will be 14542 megawatts at a conservative estimate.
Objectives laid down
Myanmar has drawn up the National Electrification Plan—NEP. In 2020, it was targeted to electrify 50 percent of rural and urban areas, 75 percent in 2025 and 100 percent in 2030. To do so, electrification for the region within the reach of national power grid line will be carried out through on-grid electrification system whereas electrification for the region beyond the reach of national power grid line will be carried out through off-grid electrification system. Arrangements are being made for distributing power to houses through the power resources, solar energy, hydro-power and wind-operated electricity using natural resources by building Mini-Grid lines under the off-grid line projects. Yet, the system focuses on nationwide electrification, not guaranteeing the production of power needed for the development of industries.
In making various approaches to fulfilling the national power requirement the State alone cannot invest in the projects of producing power. Only if arrangements had been made for acquisition of electricity simultaneously on the other hand, can guarantees be made for the national economic development.
Accordingly, the State Government invited investors from home and abroad to invest in the country. In some enterprises the government alone invested with in some enterprises local and international entrepreneurs invited to operate enterprises under the JV System [Joint Venture System] or BOT System [Build, Operate and Transfer System.] But, until now no one was found yet to energetically take part in implementing the acquisition of efficient energy. One of the major causes is that reasonable power charges cannot be fixed yet so far, it was learnt. There may also be other causes. At the time when the State Government alone could not invest for national power urgent requirement, reluctance to invest in the projects as for the global investors may be attributed to uncertainty to get profits or lack of economic prospects of getting benefits.
Whatever it is, electricity requirement must be essentially solved out. To overcome the present difficulty electricity must be produced by the country or otherwise investors must be let to invest for production of electricity in the country. Provided that these two ways are unsuccessful, the third and last method of ‘cross border electricity trading must be chosen.
Cross border electricity trading will be currently convenient in the long run, as well as beneficial to the country in the long run because construction of infrastructures would have been built for other kinds of border cross trading as well in the future.
With a view to building ASEAN Power Grid, informal meetings were held at the ASEAN meetings starting from 1997, and now it is beginning to be implemented. Laos now renowned as the battery of South-East Asia managed to produce 30 billion kilowatts annually, selling 21.1 billion kilowatts to foreign countries. At the 35th ASEAN Energy Ministerial Meeting held in September 2017, Laos signed agreements with Malaysia and Thailand, to sell electricity from Laos to Malaysia via power grid lines in Thailand. In near future arrangements are underway to sell electricity from Laos to Singapore through Malaysia.
If Myanmar will approach to enter the sphere of the cross border electricity trading, at the initial period Myanmar will purchase electricity urgently needed for the country, but in future Myanmar will be able to sell its electricity product to neighboring countries such as China, India and other regional countries. Moreover, Myanmar will have an access to hire its gridlines in electricity trading between neighboring countries.
Only if power requirements had been overcome
Only if electricity requirements has been managed to be overcome, economic reforms will be successfully able to be implemented with great momentum. No one will deny if it is said that adequacy of electricity is the vitality for the national economic development. It is necessary for the Government to make firm decisions with bravery in some cases, especially in such a time when electricity requirements are to be fulfilled in shortest period of time, while performing its tasks within the limited budget.
The major objective of the country is the acquisition of electricity with a meager amount of the investments from the Government in a short period of time, hence the need to focus on the success of our objectives.
Translate by Khin Maung Oo