WASHINGTON: Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a much-awaited agreement Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project known as CASA-1000 on electricity transit fees. This would help establish commercial arrangements for 1,300MW of sustainable regional electricity trade between Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the CASA-1000.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar described it a major step towards closer partnership between the two countries with transmission of central Asian energy to Pakistan.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dan Feldman witnessed the signing ceremony at the World Bank Headquarters.
It is a win-win for both countries, Dar said as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government successfully concluded the negotiations with Afghanistan on reaching an accord on 1.25 cent per KW transit fee for supply of Central Asian electricity to Pakistan through Afghan territory.
Finance Minister Dar expressed appreciation for the World Bank, the US State Department, and USAID for their support for the landmark project. This marks a new beginning for greater economic cooperation between the two countries and Pakistan is committed to greater economic and trade cooperation with Afghanistan which just had a new government in Kabul, Dar said.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, and Additional Secretary External Finance Shahid Mahmood attended the ceremony.
For his part Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal said Afghanistan was ready to realise the CASA-1000 vision and improve energy security and trade for the two countries and the region.
Meanwhile Ambassador Jilani also said the agreement marked an important achievement towards meeting Pakistan’s exponential energy requirements. This is another vital step following US support for Diamer Bhasha Dam to realise energy availability for Pakistan.
CASA 1000 will build more than 1,200 km of electricity transmission lines and associated substations to transmit excess summer hydropower energy from existing power generation stations in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
To oversee the complex four countries process an inter-governmental council has been established that will supervise the design and implementation of the project.
In March 2014 the World Bank Group approved financing for the engineering design construction and commissioning of transmission lines and three new converter stations. The project would build upon existing power generation stations that will provide the energy to be traded over CASA-1000.
The commercial and operating framework for CASA 1000 is specifically based on open access principles that will allow additional energy supplying countries to connect with wider regional transmission networks.
CASA 1000 will enable the development of the Central Asia South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM) a long-term plan for regional energy trade.