RANGOON — In a push to develop Burma’s national power grid, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has offered a US$60 million loan to improve access to electricity in four divisions.
Some 480,000 households in Rangoon, Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway divisions will see access to a more reliable electricity supply through the loan, ADB said Monday.
“Access to electricity is crucial to development. Repairing and strengthening existing electricity infrastructure will help reduce system losses, use resources more efficiently and connect more people more quickly,” Jong-Inn Kim, lead energy specialist in the ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in a statement.
The ADB loan will fund rehabilitation works to carry electricity more efficiently, including upgrades to existing distribution lines, transformers and digital revenue meters.
In Burma, a fifth of all power generated is lost because of technical inefficiencies.
The Yangon City Electricity Supply Board says the main power grid is outdated, and that people in rural areas receive less reliable electricity than those living in urban centers.
Maung Mg Latt, vice chairman of the board, said Rangoon’s daily electricity consumption had reached 800 megawatts per day, almost half of the electricity available nationally.
“Other cities consume between 900 to 1,000 megawatts today,” he said Monday.
The ADB hopes to reduce distribution loss by 4 percent.
According to the bank’s statistics, electrification in the country has increased, from 16 percent in 2006 to 28 percent last year. Rangoon city is the most connected, with 72 percent of households accessing regular electricity, followed by 65 percent in Naypyidaw and 35 percent in Mandalay. Only one in five rural households is connected to the grid.
In September, the World Bank announced it was providing Burma with an interest-free $140 million loan to develop a power plant in Mon State, as the bank’s first investment project in Burma since reengaging with Naypyidaw.
Under a deal cut with Burma’s previous military government, Chinese firms will pump energy reserves worth $45 million per day through the pipeline when it comes online in the coming months, with the energy bypassing Burmese citizens, according to a Reuters report.