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Cross-Border Energy Cooperation Grows Between Tajikistan and Afghanistan

Tajikistan may not recognize the Taliban government of neighboring Afghanistan, but the two countries are starting to cooperate better on trading electricity.

On February 1, Energy and Water Resources Minister Daler Juma informed reporters that Afghanistan had fully paid off its debts for power delivered to date. 

Kabul has since 2021 proven an unreliable customer. While regularly paying off part of its dues to Tajikistan, it has struggled to clear its debts outright.

In 2023, Tajikistan exported 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, worth $110.4 million, Juma said. That was 5 percent more than in 2022, said Juma, without specifying how much of the total was reserved for Afghanistan.

Tajikistan at present exports power to Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Juma says most of this power is delivered in spring and summer, when hydropower facilities produce excess capacity. The exception is Afghanistan, which continues to receive electricity in small quantities to keep key infrastructure up and running. The precise tariff structure for that electricity is not made public.

Ever since the Taliban seized power and installed a self-styled Islamic Emirate, Tajikistan has adopted a cool stance toward Afghanistan. 

President Emomali Rahmon has been downright hostile. In August 2021, he stated his government would not recognize the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan unless the country's ethnic Tajik minority, which he claimed accounted for 46 percent of the total population, was accorded a "worthy role" in the running of the country.

That notwithstanding, the countries are in economic dialogue. Trade turnover in 2023 amounted to $98 million, which was 12 percent below the year before.

Tajikistan and Afghanistan entered into an agreement in 2008 on the supply of Tajik electricity through to 2028.

At the end of each year, the parties sign a renewal protocol, which determines the cost and volume of electricity supplies for the next year. The chair of Tajik state power company Mahmadumar Asozoda met in December in Turkey with his Afghan opposite party, Alhaj Mullah Muhammad Hanif Hamza, head of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, or DABS, to sign an electricity purchase agreement for 2024. 

The pair used the meeting to also discuss "the possibility of extending a new 500 [kilovolt] transmission line from Tajikistan to Afghanistan," DABS said in a statement. 

Kabul has further registered interest in continuing to work on implementing CASA-1000, a Western-backed project to link hydropower rich nations Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

By Eurasianet.org

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