USAID SARI Energy Countries
Afghanistan

Energy Sector Overview

Afghanistan, (which literally means Land of the Afghan) is a mountainous land-locked country located in Central Asia. It has a history and culture that goes backover 5000 years. However, with more than two decades of war and chaos, and threeyears of drought in the late 1990s; Afghanistan's agrarian economy was inpoor condition, by time the Taliban was removed frompower, by end of 2001. Afghanistan now has a democratically elected government. After winning an election, President Hamid Karzai, who had previously served on an interim basis, was officially inaugurated on October 9, 2004. Since then, there has been marked improvement. For the Afghan fiscal year, which ran fromMarch 21, 2004 to March 20, 2005; the gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 8 percent. Foreignaid has been helpful to Afghanistan, and pledges of assistance now total almost $15 billion. In March 2004, President Karzai urged foreign donors at a conference in Berlin to renew their commitmentsto Afghanistan, while presenting the donors with a $28 billion, 7-year economic development program. It is estimated that Afghans living outside the country had invested $3 billion in Afghanistan (out of an economy with GDP of around $6-$7 billion). The government has been pushing financial sector and customs reforms, along with a plan to promote private investment in the energy sector.

The war-damaged power infrastructure is severely constraining Afghanistan’s economic development. Officially, the access to power is around 7% of the population and stands at 18.50 to 19.25 kWh per capita ( historically, Afghanistan never had power coverage of more than 22 percent of its population ) it is among the lowest in the world.  The existing power supply infrastructure is extensively damaged and fragmented. Its four main isolated grids are clustered around areas of:-

  • Kabul in the east
  • Mazar-e-Sharif in the north
  • Herat in the west, and
  • Kandahar in the south.

The decades of war-damage, poor maintenance, lack of funds, technical and management capacity and outright neglect has left the system in shambles. It is estimated that only about 70% of transmission and distribution systems survived the prolonged conflicts. The generation capacity suffered similar fate, and since demand outstrips supply, there are extensive load shedding and programmed outages. Rural areas remain practically unconnected to the grid or other affordable, sustainable power supply options. Hydropower, the major indigenous source, both for urban and rural areas, remains badly under-utilized (According to Power System Master Plan for Afghanistan, the theoretical hydroelectric potential is believed to be 25,000 MW; for the near term the capacity is estimated at 800 MW. Current installed capacity is 304 MW and operating capacity is 183 MW, as per AEAI a USAID contractor -2004- to date). The dilapidated power sector assets need urgent and extensive rehabilitation and refurbishment in order to operate reliably. A number of systems, even though currently functioning, are on the verge of obsolescence. Likewise, the sector’s institutional capacity currently is in disarray which needs skilled manpower, financial resources and organizational structure to meet the economy’s power needs on a sustainable basis. The Da Afghanistan Breshna Moassessa-DABM, the national utility, urgently needs commercial re-orientation for its sustenance and solvency and to attract private sector investments.

In view of the urgent need to improve power supply, since 2002, a number of interventions to improve the physical infrastructure, institutional framework and financial performance of the sector have been implemented. Notwithstanding improvements to date, the actual delivery of low-cost power, since 2002, unfortunately has not increased sufficiently. Afghanistan, currently have less power supply (Excluding imports) as compared to 1978.

Sources of Electricity supply, operating capacity (MW)

Year

Hydro

Thermal

Imported

Micro-Hydro

Total (MW)

Before 1978

258.72

137.18

0

0

395.9

2002

140.56

15.79

86.7

0

243.05

2007

183.35

87.50

96

14.84

463.99

Source: Minister of Energy and Water, Afghanistan

Current power coverage is estimated to be over 70% in urban areas, and includes privately-owned diesel-power generators diesel power. The diesel generators produce electricity at high-cost to both the firms and the country’s foreign exchange holdings, thereby impairing competitiveness, while other business languish because of non availability of affordable power supply. Also, the cost of such basic services such as hospital care, consumer goods and services go up under these circumstances.

Structure of Afghanistan power sector
Ministry of Energy and Water Chart

Source: http://www.trade.gov/static/afghanistan



Generation of Electricity

Historically, in Afghanistan most of the power generation has been based on hydropower (generating over 54% of the total), and the rest from thermal sources (primarily through use of coal and natural gas). However, power generation facilities suffered extensive war damage and neglect, and require significant rehabilitation and/or upgrading.

Generation unit status

Location

Installed
Capacity (MW)

Configuration
(MW)

Operating
Capacity (MW)

Existing Status

Kabul / East

Asadabad

0.7

2x0.35

0.1

Two units are under rehabilitation

Darunta

11.5

3x3.83

8.5

Units need rehabilitation

Kbl-Sarobi

26

2x13

22.5

 

Mahipar

66

3x22

0

Mahipar: Unit 1 needs rehabilitation and has reduced operating capacity of 16 MW; Unit 2 out for rehabilitation since 2005/Jun/1

Naghlu

100

4x25

100

Shortage of water

Ghazni

1.72

3x0.44, 1x0.4

1.72

 

Khost

1.124

2x0.4, 1x0.324

1.124

 

NW Kabul 3

22

1x22

20

Unit needs rehabilitation

NW Kabul 4

23

1x23

20

Unit needs rehabilitation

Kabul Diesel Gens

10.64

1x 1.76 , 8x0.904, 2x0.824

5.344

Five gen sets are out of service and 2 gens transfered to Jalalabad, 2 to Paktiya and 8 gens to Kandahar.

North

Jabalsaraj

2.2

2x0.5 , 2x0.6

1

Two units are out of service

Pul-e-Khumri 1

4.8

3x1.5

1

 

Pul-e-Khumri 2

9

3x3

5.4

Capacity is constrained due to shortage of water

Aybak

1.76

1x1.1 , 2x0.5

1.76

 

South

Grishk

2.4

2x1.2

1.2

Units need rehabilitation

Kajakai 1

16.5

1x16.5

0

Unit under rehabilitation

Kajakai 3

16.5

1x16.5

0

Unit under rehabilitation

Qalat

3.52

4x0.88

2.64

1 gen set is out of service and low fuel stock level

Lashkar-Gah

3.75

3x1.25

0

Because of low load manchines are off

Paktika

0.82

1x0.82

0.82

 

Tirin Kot

0.4

1x0.4

0.4

 

Kandahar

15.96

14x1.14

5

10 gen. sets on line.

Total

340.3

 

198.5

 

Source: Afghanistan energy information centre, Dec 01, 2008

A number of current and/or planned efforts across the country covering these areas include:-

  1. The rehabilitation of major existing hydropower plants (HPPs) such as Naghlu, Mahipar and Sarobi
  2. Emergency repairs and diesel fuel supplies such as for the NW Kabul thermal plant (44 MW), and
  3. Expansion/New Development of generations plants including Sheberghan Gas-fired Project (100 MW) and Baghdara (360 MW), and Kajakai (100 MW) hydropower development.

In addition, some power generation activities are also directed to provide off-grid supply, which include:-

  1. Potential micro-hydro and solar-based power systems collectively, adding about 21 MW
  2. 25 diesel generators to meet the emergency needs (during winters) for Kabul (and Kandahar)
  3. Rural power supply however, continues to rely mostly on micro hydro plants (MHP’s) with limited diesel (mostly privately owned) and batteries, and is estimated to cover less than 7% of the rural population ( There are no reliable estimates of rural electricity coverage; some anecdotal evidence, including personal conversation (April 16, 2007) with Mr. Ghulam Rabbani, Director General, DABM, indicates such coverage from all sources as over 70%).

Most power generation efforts are funded by donors with, in few cases, limited cost-sharing by the Government. However, in general various efforts are constrained by the lack of funds, inadequate technical and management capacity, and/or security-related issues.


Transmission

The war-damaged transmission system, in spite of on-going improvements, continues to stay fragmented and disconnected (to the national grid). Supporting infrastructure including metering of power supplied is highly inadequate. It is important to note that an adequate and sound transmission system is crucial for reducing power losses and achieving the objectives of The North East Power System-NEPS, Southern Power System-SEPS (details of these have been included in Section 7) and other power sector programs.

Since 2002, several activities have been underway or are waiting implementation. The important ones include:

  1. Pul-e-Khumri-Chimtala transmission line installation to connect Kabul at 110KV
  2. Hairatan--Mazar-e-Sharif-Pul-i-Khumri Power Grid and Kajaki-Kandahar High Voltage transmission line under SEPS, and
  3. Prioritized improvements directed at system’s operation, maintenance and control.

Initial efforts focused on stabilizing the system, cost effectiveness, operation ability, rehabilitation and strengthening of the transmission system are must which will help import low-cost power. Connecting the existing disconnected transmission lines will also surely improve the situation.  Below given picture details about the Afghanistan’s existing, under construction and planned transmission system.

Transmission network summary of Afghanistan

Transmission Lines

Existing

Planned

Total

NEPS

SEPS

Herat

NEPS

SEPS

Herat

Area

Area

20 KV

 

 

133

 

 

 

133

35 KV

162

 

 

 

 

 

162

110 KV

739

223

104

591

 

 

1,657

132 KV

 

 

148

 

 

 

148

220 KV

 

 

 

1,065

177

 

1,242

Other

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Total

900

223

385

1,656

177

0

3,341

Source: AEIC

Afghanistan’s Existing, under Construction and Planned Transmission System
Afghanistan Map

 


Distribution of electricity to consumers

Distribution is the least developed part of the Afghanistan power system. Its existing condition significantly limits the availability of power supply. It is well recognized that as power supply continues to increase local and regional distribution networks without timely and significant improvement, will emerge as serious constraint in effective power delivery to the end-users. Such is currently the case in Mazar-e-Sharif, where, in spite of (adequate) power supply, the inadequate capacity of the distribution system limits effective power delivery. Hence, past few years, the priority focus has been the rehabilitation and expansion of the distribution system for major urban centers, in particular three key economic hubs: Kabul, Kandahar and Herat.

Afghanistan distribution sector consumer mix

Number of DABM Customers (Inc. Micro Hydro)

Electricity Billed GWH

Average Billed Energy Usage    kWh

Region

Commercial

Government

Residential

Total

Urban/ Rural

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rural

13,216

2,269

83,111

98,596

69

359

 Urban

20,181

2,972

295,652

318,805

885

2,574

Regional  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 North

13,653

3,155

137,521

154,329

213

692

 East

7,090

1,493

141,258

149,841

506

1,802

 South

10,032

345

48,906

59,283

98

483

 West

2,622

248

51,078

53,948

136

809

Afghanistan Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33,397

5,241

378,763

417,401

953

1,731

Source: DABM Figures Supplied 12/10/06

Existing distribution networks in Kabul, is unable to handle more than 150 MW, against a potential requirement of twice this amount. Some key projects to upgrade the distribution networks, along with estimated cost for each are:-

  1. Improving Kabul City Networks ($65 M)
  2. Mazar-e-Sharif ($31 M) projects, and
  3. Improvements in towns such as Charikar, Doshi, Khulm, Gulbahar and Aybak, located along the Northern Transmission System-NTS.

The major constraint on improving distribution is funding. It is well estimated that connecting each new customer to the system is expensive, costs $1,000 in distribution costs alone. For Kabul alone, total distribution costs are estimated at $310 M. Weak distribution systems can lead to power wastage of up to 75%. Since most funding to date has gone to rehabilitate and upgrade generation systems, funds for distribution system improvement need high priority. Below given picture details about the priority proposed transmission lines and various proposed transmission lines as well as funding sources.

Priority Proposed Transmission Lines and various proposed transmission lines Proposed Transmission Lines


Rural Energy Availability and Use

Access to electricity in rural areas is very limited; some estimates put it at 7% of the total Afghanistan population. (There are no reliable estimates of rural electricity coverage; some anecdotal evidence, including personal conversation (April 16, 2007) with Mr. Ghulam Rabbani, Director General, DABM, indicates such coverage from all sources as over 70%.) Sources of power, except for those villages in the close proximity of the grid, are micro hydro power, private diesel generation, candles, batteries, solar lanterns, and hurricane lamps for light, and biomass for cooking.

At present, there is no clear institutional framework or policy for rural electrification and a de facto split of responsibilities exist among various ministries. There is a need to develop a robust enabling environment such as through articulation of a Rural Electrification Policy that encourages community buy-in, and emphasizes the role of Community Development Councils (CDC’s), and also the private sector in advancing rural electrification. This approach will recognize the Government’s limitations to meaningfully intervene, given the extent of the need, which is estimated to be over 85-94% of the total energy needs of the Afghan rural population, which is often thinly spread including over mountainous and over difficult- to-access terrains. Notwithstanding these difficulties, it is important to note that providing rural electrification is important to alleviate Afghanistan’s poverty, for bringing rural economic development as a strategic intervention against the opium economy. Obviously, there is a need to promote income-generating opportunities, which are virtually non-existent at this time. A number of developing countries have successfully provided rural electrification covering over 85% of the population. Included are: Thailand and Bangladesh, via grid power, and Kenya via Solar Home Systems, all of which is under private sector.

Under a World Bank-funded program called the ‘National Solidarity Program (NSP)', which is working with local Community Development Councils (CDC’s), over 500 micro-hydro projects have been built since 2003. CDC’s participation has involved operations and maintenance (O&M) and established viable systems of cost-recovery, in turn providing sustainability. As experience is generated, this model could be reviewed for potentially wider use. For small towns and cities, the current efforts to provide and/or strengthen power availability include:-

  1. The Qalat Electrification project, which established 4,300 new connections, among other improvements
  2. The Aybak Distribution Project
  3. Microhydro project in various parts of the country
  4. Limited wind energy projects (such as in Herat, with over 120 days of strong winds), and
  5. Estimated 200 small biogas digesters in Kandahar.

The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development is focusing attention in these areas.


Cost Recovery, Institutional Reforms and Capacity Building

DABM’s current tariff regimes do not even recover costs, (at present, according to the World Bank, DABM’s per kWh revenues are US 5.1 cents against its power generation cost of US cents 12.3, as of 2005) moreover, it distorts market prices, and creates significant gaps between power supply costs and revenues on a system-wide aggregate level. In addition, DABM’s billed revenues, which are based on a customer providing its power meter readings, in many cases go unbilled and/or uncollected. The entire system suffers from numerous serious shortfalls. Power tariffs are based on political rather than economic decisions, including non-payment of power bills for over two years by some key government institutes. The cash-strapped Government fills the gap through subsidies, averaging US $56 million/year. Based on anecdotal evidence, the indicated amount is an underestimate. Several costs such as fuel are not included and covered by MEW .

To date, some operational and management improvements in DABM have been made which includes: tariff increases in some areas, completion of the DABM’s inventory, establishment of a loss reduction unit, and staff training in billing and collections. The utility is waiting for the approval of by-laws authorizing its liquidation. This will enable it to expeditiously move towards its planned ‘corporatization’. On-going efforts call for:-

  1. Putting DABM’ functioning on commercial basis, and as an autonomous body, reporting to the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW)
  2. Preparation and enactment of power sector specific or decree
  3. Implementing pricing reform, metering and billing and procedures
  4. Computerization of DABM’s accounts and billing and collection systems
  5. Tariff reforms for Kabul and Herat, followed by other cities, and
  6. Building MEW’s capacity, in particular, to improve its operations.

Programs

In order to achieve development objectives several activities, some on-going and others planned or under planning are being implemented in Afghanistan. A synoptic view of the programs is provided below: (1) the North East Power System (2) the South East Power System; (3) the Western Power System; and (4) Rural Electrification Program. These programs are listed below:-

a. The North East Power System (NEPS)

NEPS, a flagship program consists of generation, transmission and distribution components which will combine imported power with domestically generated (100 MW) thermal (based on indigenous natural gas, estimated gas reserves available as of 2006: 1197.17 billion, current demand including for the 100 MW power plant is estimated at 21.09 billion ft3; Expected life of gas reserves, 56 years. Plant operational target date: late 2008) generation. NEPS’s primary objective is to serve urban centers in Kabul, Nangarhar, Parwan, Balkh, Jawzjan, Kunduz and Baghlan. On a priority basis, the transmission lines that will transmit imported power from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan to major urban centers in the North and East, in particular Kabul are being completed.

To enhance power supply a country-wide enhancement program to reduce long-term dependence on imported power, indigenous resource-based power is being generated for feeding into NEPS through:-

  1. Thermal (natural gas) plants in Sheberghan and the Northwest (diesel) plant near Kabul (which, over the longer term, will be replaced by a private sector owned and managed plant)
  2. Rehabilitation of Hydropower plants (HPPs) in Pul-i-Chumri and Khanabad in the North, and Naghlu, Surobi and Mahipar in the east
  3. For the long-term, 15 years and beyond,  establishing new hydro power plants in Baghdara and a second plant in Saurobi; pre-feasibility studies for these hydro plants have been completed
  4. In addition, a transmission line will also be extended from Kabul to Logar and Gardez.

NEPS: Existing, under Construction and Planned Transmission System 1

 

b. Southern Power System (SEPS)

SEPS aim is to serve urban centers in Helmand and Kandahar. It will enhance power supply to Kandahar and Helmand by rehabilitating two turbines and by extending a third turbine at Kajakai. In addition to enhancing power supply, another key aim is to gradually reducing reliance upon diesel fuel generated power. Furthermore, an attempt is on to advance the proposed time-frame for the feasibility study to expand hydro power production in Kajaki through a second dam. Security is a particular concern especially in the South-east. The Government, however, has an alternate power supply plan and is willing to explore the feasibility of  small-scale power solutions such as decentralized systems, mini-grids and others, in areas where security becomes a threat.

SEPS Existing and Planned Activities (Transmission lines under this Program) 2

 

c. Eastern Transmission System

Its objective is to provide transmission lines from Kabul region (Naghlu) to Jalalabad and to Mehtarlam, the capital of Laghman Province. Planned lines will be 110 kV.

ETS – Existing, under Construction and Planned Transmission Systems 3

d. Western Urban Energy Program

 This program will primarily serve urban centres in Herat and Bagdhis.Currently, the Program has two transmission lines importing electricity from Iran and Turkmenistan to Herat, where power supply is not a concern, except to the extent that Herat is dependent on imported power. While short-term efforts will focus on improving the distribution and cost recovery systems, over the long-term prime objective will be attaining cost-effective domestic sources of power generation for the West including Herat, either from coal deposits at Sabzak or connecting to the NEPS from Balkh or use of solar, in particular wind turbines for Herat, with over 120 windy days offers the potential to provide power.

Western Transmission System (WTS): Existing and under Construction Systems 4

 


Annexure 1

Organization chart with staffing of DABM
DABM Organization Chart



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