World Bank approves $400m credit for electrification project

About 1.25 million households throughout Myanmar will have an electricity supply in six years under a US$400 million credit approved by the World Bank’s International Development Association.

Announcing the funding on September 16, the World Bank said 750,000 households would be connected to the national grid by 2021 and off-grid electricity would be extended to another 500,000 households.

The funding would also cover the cost of 23,000 “community” connections for clinics, schools and religious buildings and the installation of 150,000 public lights, it said. The project is the first step of a National Electrification Plan developed by the government with World Bank assistance in 2014.

The three-phase plan, developed with the assistance of the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, calls for 50 percent access by 2020, 75 percent by 2025, and universal access by 2030.

“This means 7.2 million new household connections over the next 15 years, requiring a doubling of the current rate of grid extension and a total of $6 billion in investments,” the World Bank said.

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“This will be achieved through a two-pronged approach: rapid extension of the national grid, coupled with off-grid electricity, including modern solar home systems and mini-grids, to rural and remote communities that would otherwise have to wait years for a grid connection,” it said.

The plan has the potential to transform lives in rural Myanmar, where 84 percent of households have no electricity connection, “creating hardship, perpetuating poverty and stalling development.”

It said only 30 percent of the population was connected to the national grid and average annual per capita electricity consumption was 160 kilowatt-hours, one-twentieth of the global average.

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