Afghanistan struggles to meet growing domestic electricity needs: ICRC

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that while the populations of several cities across Afghanistan are facing increasing power cuts, many parts of the country still remain unconnected to the national grid, affecting the people’s livelihood and the functioning of essential infrastructures.

The ICRC said in a report that only 22% of the 1,600 megawatts used each year are produced nationally, while the rest is imported from neighboring countries.

“To ensure people’s access to electricity and water,” the report said. “The ICRC has donated since the beginning of the year, more than 1.2 million liters of fuel, over 25,000 liters of engine and transformer oil, and generators spare parts to Afghanistan’s electricity supply company and to the urban water supply corporation.”

This comes as the residents of Kabul called on Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) to make efforts to provide proper electricity as winter approaches.

“The electricity should be 24/7. It is good to prevent the pollution in the air as well,” said Rohullah Safai, a Kabul resident.

“There is no good electricity in the winter. It comes from 10:00 pm to 04:00 am. Then there will be no electricity. We have a lot of problems in getting power,” said Mohammad Omar, a resident of Kabul.

A spokesman for DABS, Hekmatullah Maiwandi, said that they are attempting to provide the citizens with continued electricity for winter.

“We have three plans for winter. First is to maintain and protect the lines which carry electricity from abroad,” he said.

Around 80 percent of Afghanistan’s electricity is imported from Central Asian neighbors and Iran.

“Afghanistan is dependent on imported electricity and until Afghanistan reaches self-sufficiency, the electricity problem for Afghanistan will not be solved,” said Amanullah Ghalib, former head of DABS.

Meanwhile, Members of the Afghan Craftsmen Association complained of a shortage of power, saying that problem with electricity has caused a reduction in their output.

The shortage of power has affected the domestic industries for years, they said.

“Even in the winter, they provide us just with 10 to 12 hours of power,” said Abdul Baseer Tariq, head of the Afghan Craftsmen Association.

The owners of the factories said that they were forced to stop their activities as they were not provided with necessary power.

Ana Haidari, a manager of one of the factories, said that due to the shortage of the power, they were forced to halt operations.

“We used to be able to cover around 80 percent of our market but now we work only one shift and we can only cover between 40 to 50 percent,” she said.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Industry and Mines (ACIM) said that the industrial parks need more than 1,000 megowatts of power.

“If the plan is extended and other parks are reactivated, the trade process will hopefully increase, then we may need even more than 1,000 megawatts of power,” said Mohammad Karim Azimi, head of the ACIM.

Afghanistan imports more than 80 percent of its electricity from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.—Tolonews

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