By: Suraya Raiszada
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a $52.5 million grant for the Afghanistan Gas Project that will provide sustainable supply of natural gas to independent power producers in Northern Afghanistan.
More specifically, the Afghanistan Gas Project will provide direct financing and technical assistance for the construction, operation and maintenance of a gas pipeline from Sheberghan to Mazar-e-Sharif and a new natural gas desulfurization amine plant and establishment of a strong institutional, regulatory, and contract management framework based on the principles of good governance in the gas sector.
“By investing in critical gas infrastructure and developing a strong foundation for good governance in the gas sector, the project will improve Afghanistan’s energy supply, which is currently critically low, and contribute to poverty reduction,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
This project is one element of the World Bank Group’s broader support for improved energy access in Afghanistan, as part of an ongoing commitment to help developing countries extend access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy for their citizens.
The Bank has a long track record of supporting the expansion and improvement of energy access, both on and off-grid – through power generation, transmission and distribution, support to the private sector, and technical assistance and policy advice.
The support to domestic gas utilization will help diversify sources of electricity supply in the country and connect more Afghans to the electricity grid. Diversifying electricity sources will also provide more stable supply for existing users such as businesses, enabling them to grow and create more jobs for Afghans.
The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum will lead the overall implementation of the project in close coordination with other government agencies, including the Afghanistan Gas Enterprise, and the Afghanistan Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.
Meanwhile, a number of Afghan experts believe that undoubtedly such grant assistance provided to Afghanistan by the international community in particular the World Bank has been effective.
“The World Bank has provided grant assistance to Afghanistan and spent in various sections such as energy, water supply development, construction of bridges and dozens of other development projects,” said Saifuddin Saihoon, an Afghan economic expert.
According to Saihoon, to end poverty in the country and free Afghanistan from foreign dependency, investment should be done on the country’s resources as Afghanistan is enriched in precious mines, mineral and resources.
Another Afghan expert and a member of Afghanistan Academy of Sciences Shir Ali Tazri says World Bank has provided million dollar to Afghanistan to spend for construction of roads, schools and bridges, economic activities as well as education.
“The government of Afghanistan should spend any grant assistance provided by the international community so that Afghans could see changes in their life as electricity which is the most essential part of life should be provided to the people in every part of the country. He believes that in recent years lack of energy has changed to the most serious concern of the people in particular Kabul residents; therefore, the grant assistance provided by the World Bank should be used for power and energy project in the country so that the people have access to 24 – hour electricity.