Central Asia, Global View

CASA-1000: perspectives

Project description

The Central Asia-South Asia power project, commonly known by the acronym CASA-1000, is a $1.16 billion project currently under construction that will allow for the export of surplus hydroelectricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The CASA-1000 project will include:

  • 500kV AC line from Datka (in the Kyrgyz Republic) to Sugd-500 (477 kilometers away, in Tajikistan)
  • 1300 megawatt AC-DC Convertor Station at Sangtuda (Tajikistan)
  • 750 kilometer High Voltage DC line from Sangtuda (Tajikistan) to Nowshera (Pakistan)
  • 1300 megawatt DC-AC Convertor Station at Nowshera

CASA-1000 has the support of the World Bank Group, Islamic Development Bank, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), US State Department, United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and other donor communities.

The CASA-1000 project will start from Kyrgyzstan and reach Afghanistan through Tajikistan and onward to Pakistan’s Peshawar city. The length of the project in Afghanistan is estimated to eventually run for 562km.

The project will produce 1,300 megawatts of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan will receive 300 megawatts of power and the remaining one thousand megawatts will be transited to Pakistan via Afghanistan.

The resolution to develop the CASA-1000 mw project was signed in september 2013, when a meeting of four countries hosted by the Pakistan was held in Islamabad. The project is expected to create the conditions for sustainable hydropower trade to alleviate power supply shortages in the importing countries of South Asia while enhancing sector and budget revenues in the exporting Central Asian countries.

The final agreement on the Central Asia South Asia 1000 project was signed in November 26, 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey, by the energy agencies of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The project is estimated to be realised in six years, having the approval date March 27, 2014 and its closing date is June 30, 2020. Total project cost (which includes funding from World Bank and non-bank sources) is US$ 997.00 million.

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How can this project sustain regional development?

Development can be achieved by harnessing the potential of member countries and through exchange relations either within the member countries or with the neighboring countries. This way of reciprocal completion is an important development tool.  A good example in this case is the CASA-1000 project, where the huge hydro-energetic potential Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have enjoyed neighboring countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, the first two countries will enjoy modernization of the technical and municipal infrastructure and the other two will enjoy electricity. At the time of 2014, only 87.4% of the Afghan population had access to electricity and 97.5% of the Pakistan population. These two countries had the lowest electrification rates in the entire western half of Asia except Syria (86.5%).

At the level of 2017, the situation has changed; the percentage increased to 90% for Afghanistan and 98% for Pakistan, but it is still not 100%.

The lack of an adequate supply of electricity is a huge detriment to the economic development and security of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Without power, businesses cannot invest or create jobs, hospitals and schools operate on expensive and polluting generators, citizens suffer from indoor air pollution caused by burning wood for heating and cooking, and people endure scorching summers without fans or air conditioning. Basic services that people in developed countries take for granted cannot be offered.

By building new transmission facilities, the CASA-1000 Project would give a much-needed boost to Pakistan’s electricity situation.

A functioning, affordable electricity system is critical to Afghanistan’s stability. Transformative projects like CASA-1000 can enable improved transportation, telecommunications, industry, and social services—all aspects of a functioning economy that depend on electricity. The reliable supply of imported energy from the CASA-1000 transmission lines will allow for continued economic development based on existing, clean hydropower resources. Given its location in the transmission system, imported electricity that is not used in Afghanistan could be re-exported to Pakistan. This would generate valuable revenue for Afghanistan that could be re-invested into the country’s continued development.

 CASA-1000 Project in the past two years (2016-2017)

CASA-1000 is not without its risks: financial, security, and political.

Financially, according to Energy and Water Minister Abdul Basir Azimi, the construction phase of the project in Afghanistan would cost $404 million. 80 percent of it would be funded by the World Bank and the rest by Afghanistan. Tolonews also reported Afghan authorities as saying the project was worth $2.1 billion.

Moving forward to security, it is important to know that the project area stretches across seven Afghan provinces from Tajikistan to Pakistan. The Afghan portion goes through several troubled spots, including Kunduz and Nangarhar. In September 2015, Kunduz city was seized by the Taliban and while by October they’d been expelled, the province remains contested. Nangarhar, on the other hand, has become the center of Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) activity in Afghanistan. In April, the United States dropped one of its largest non-nuclear bombs, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (aka the Mother of All Bombs or MOAB) on an ISKP tunnel complex in Nangarhar’s Achin district.

With Islamic State territory shrinking in Iraq and Syria over the past several months, analysts have suggested that ISIS fighters, squeezed out of the Middle East, may find their way into Afghanistan.

In May 2017 Afghan authorities said they’d selected an Indian company and that work would begin once the procurement process was finished and the agreements finalized. In August, Afghan authorities said the project would take three years to complete, pushing operation of CASA-1000 into at least 2020.

Afghanistan is slated to receive 300 MW of Central Asian electricity with the remaining 1,000 MW continuing on to energy-starved Pakistan. Kabul is supposed to receive $50 million in transit fees annually, as well. The project, therefore, not only serves as an important facet of Afghanistan’s management of rising domestic electricity demand but also as a source of income.

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