CHINESE GENEROUS OFFER TO OVERCOME ENERGY CRISIS

SHAMIM RIZVI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Apr 25 - May 1, 2011

Once again, China has extended a helping hand to Pakistan as a real friend in need. This time it has offered to help the country to overcome the worst energy crisis Pakistan is presently faced with due to the criminal neglect by the governments (both civil and military) during the last about three decades. There is a shortfall of about 4000 megawatt (MW) between supply and demand which has not only badly affected the economy but has also made the life of the people miserable through long hours of load shedding.

China Three Gorges Corporation, a state owned corporation dealing with construction of power infrastructure, has offered Pakistan to help it overcome the power crisis by producing about 10,000 MWs of electricity with an investment of over $15 billion.

Chairman of Three Gorges Corporation, Cao Guangjing along with a 10 member team of experts, visited Pakistan last week and held detailed discussions with the relevant Pakistani authorities on the various projects and proposals besides meeting the President, the Prime Minister and minister for water and power. While talking to news reporters after these meetings, Cao Guangjing said that "we are ready for huge cooperation with Pakistan in power generation".

He disclosed that an agreement for 720 MW project has already been signed while another agreement on Kohala hydropower project is ready for signature. Yet another contract of wind energy near Karachi has also been signed.

To a question, Cao said our visit was highly fruitful. The Pakistani authorities were briefed during the visit about the competence and desire of his company to work closely with Pakistan for the development of its energy sector and it was ready to invest up to $15 billion to produce additional 10,000 MW of electricity. Pakistani authorities have welcomed it and so the meetings during our visit were result-oriented, he said adding that his company was fully equipped for the job and had all the required strong means and capability to develop power projects in Pakistan.

He said the company has also decided to work in wind energy sector in coastal areas and the people in Pakistan would also be imparted special training in this specialized sector

Chairman Cao said that the other projects that were discussed with the authorities were Bhasha, Bhunji, Dashu apart from Kohala in upper Indus Valley and other hydro projects in lower Indus Valley. The work on these projects would be started after the fulfillment of the procedural matters and would likely be completed within 10 years.

To a question, CTGC chairman said that Pakistan was blessed with huge coal reserve which can also be utilized for generating more electricity.

The latest offer from China should be taken as a blessing in disguise and followed earnestly and dedicatedly by the present PPP led government without any consideration of personal gains in the form of commission and kickbacks to which they have been accustomed in such deals in the past like IPPs and RPPs, raising the cost to an abnormally high level making it almost unaffordable. As a true friend and well-wisher of the people of Pakistan, China has offered to develop hydropower through construction of dams which is the cheapest source of energy after nuclear power.

It is a pity that Pakistani rulers have remained insensitive to the growing power needs for the country's development as well as for domestic consumption. The present government remained particularly unmoved despite public outcry over power outages that have mounted to about 10 hours in cities and towns. The situation in the rural areas is even worse. The only project they launched during the last three years is that of rental power which has developed as a corruption scandal than a source of power supply.

Previous governments of Ziaul Haq, Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf did not make any worthwhile plan to meet the country future needs of energy and failed to construct any dam or water reservoir to produce cheap and affordable electricity. BB and Zardari opted for quick fix solutions through corruption-prone IPPs and RPPs with unprecedented high cost primarily for their alleged personal financial gains. None of them, however, paid attention to the generation of low cost hydropower.

President Zardari and the Present PPP led government is lucky that such a sincere offer has come from a sincere friend to help the country to overcome its worsening energy crisis through a most suitable program for the country. It is not only in the larger interest of the country but also provides an opportunity to the PPP to improve its image by perusing this program honestly and dedicatedly.