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Eurasianet

Eurasianet

Eurasianet is an independent news organization that covers news from and about the South Caucasus and Central Asia, providing on-the-ground reporting and critical perspectives on…

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Tajikistan Boosts Electricity Exports to Afghanistan Despite Domestic Rationing

  • Barki Tojik intends to boost electricity sales to Afghanistan by 17% amidst ongoing shortages in Tajikistan.
  • Despite domestic rationing and increasing demand, Tajikistan sees the Taliban-run regime in Kabul as a reliable payer for electricity.
  • The electricity supply agreement between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, in place until 2028, is supported by regular renewal protocols determining cost and volume.
Power Grid

In a development underscoring the delicate balance between addressing the needs of Tajikistan's domestic population and the government's reliance on stable revenue, the state-owned power company has said it intends to boost electricity exports to Afghanistan, despite ongoing shortages at home.

Speaking to reporters on February 13, Barki Tojik head Mahmadumar Asozoda said Tajikistan is poised this year to increase electricity sales to Afghanistan by 17 percent.

Barki Tojik exported 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours in 2023, which was 124 million kilowatt-hours more than the year before. Of that total, some 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours were supplied to Afghanistan, Asozoda said. Another 907.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity was sold to Uzbekistan, and the remaining 144.6 million kilowatt hours went to Kazakhstan.

The power company chief revealed this data and export plans for 2024 while also conceding that Tajik households may again have to endure electricity rationing.

A rationing regime has been in force for a number of winters in Tajikistan. When the temperature sinks below a certain level, output from the Nurek hydropower plant, which produces most of the country’s electricity needs, grinds to a near-halt.

Under the economy regime currently in place, households outside the country’s largest urban centers ensure blackouts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m and then from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Asia-Plus news website reported that Asozoda attributed this requirement to Tajikistan’s rapidly growing population and improving living standards, which he said were driving up demand.

But Asozoda denied there was any tension between increased exports and the needs of the Tajik population.

“That is not exactly correct,” he was quoted as saying. “With the exception of Afghanistan, electricity exports stop in winter. A small amount of electricity is supplied [to Afghanistan] to keep their power lines in working order.”

Asozoda further noted that output is increasing. Tajikistan produced 21.65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity last year, a 2.1 percent increase from 2022.

One development in support of upping sales to Afghanistan is that the Taliban-run regime in Kabul is proving a reliable payer.

On February 1, Tajik Energy and Water Resources Minister Daler Juma announced to reporters that Afghanistan had fully paid off its debts for power delivered to date. Kabul has since 2021 struggled to keep up with its dues.

The current electricity supply agreement in place until 2028 between Afganistan and Tajikistan is the result of an agreement reached in 2008. 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. 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.

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Taliban officials later confirmed to journalists that they had paid off their electricity bills — to the full amount of $627 million — to all its suppliers, which also include Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

By Eurasianet.org

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