July 16 - 22, 20

Since there is huge potential for energy trade among the SAARC member countries, as such, all countries in the region subscribe to the need of introducing energy trade on as soon as possible for supporting infrastructure to grow the economy for affecting the elevation of prosperity of masses. This will also help in further industrialization in the region through establishment of Central Dispatch Center & Transmission Systems.

While inaugurating the Fourth SAARC Energy Ministers' Meeting at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel on September 15 2011, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the SAARC nations to work collectively and undertake practical collaborative initiatives to address 'energy' crisis to ensure sustainable development of the region. She added, "My sincere expectation remains that you would not only consider and discuss on the broader policy issues, but would also try to take a few practical shared measures to solve energy problems in the region," She also said: "Such initiatives, either on bilateral or sub-regional or regional basis, should be such that would help our countries to address the short and medium term challenges in provisioning of energy to our masses."

"Combined vision and joint efforts at public and the private sector levels can mitigate the impact of climate change and cooperation in energy sector can help south Asia for its transformation from energy constraint to energy surplus region." This was stated by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan while inaugurating two-day Conference on Climate Change and Energy Cooperation in South Asia organized by SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry at Paro, Bhutan on April 21-22, 2012.

The views of two leaders of the region are sufficient for the experts sitting at the helm of affairs in SAARC to deliberate and take firm decisions on the issue of power crisis in South Asian Region and suggest best possible measures for energy cooperation to meet the challenges.


Pakistan and India have very rich coal reserves and if exploited fully can be used to overcome the menace of energy crises in the region. In Pakistan alone 184 billion tons coal is available through which 100,000 MW of electricity can be generated for 100 years.

India and Pakistan are also rich in hydropower as well as potential for solar and wind power generation. If tapped properly with public private partnership with the connectivity efforts of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the energy can easily be traded within the SAARC member states to end the crisis.

Nepal and Bhutan have resource potential of 43,000 MW and 30,000 MW hydropower but due to shortage of funds as well as non availability of modern technology and insufficient trained man power they are unable to harness this potential which otherwise can be their major source of income by exporting to neighboring countries.

Power generation scenario of SAARC countries is given in the following Table 1 which shows the hydro power potential of the region.

From above table it can be seen that alone hydro power potential in this region is more than the total projected power requirement which is around 300,000 MW.

The harnessing of solar energy is growing very rapidly, it must be pursued rigorously as the region has very high potential. Afghanistan, Pakistan and India receive abundant solar irradiation of the order of over 2 kWh/m2 and 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.

The current market of solar energy products is in billions of dollars and if appropriate measures are adopted the region can probably establish leadership in this technology.

The wind speed in this region is averagely around 10 m/sec which is very conducive for wind forms. The bellow is the wind map and a typical wind farm.


Natural Gas dominates Bangladesh's energy mix accounting for 68% of the total energy consumption. India depends heavily on coal that accounts for 50% of total energy consumption. Afghanistan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka rely heavily on oil. Bhutan has the highest share of hydro power accounting for 70% of the total energy consumption. Pakistan has a mixed bag of energy consumption which diversifies among oil products-27%, natural gas-55% and hydro and others-18%


Table 2 bellow shows the country wise population, electricity generation and energy consumption whereas the graph bellow shows per capita consumption of electricity (kWh/person) for the Region.


Energy demand in SAARC member countries is growing at the rate of over 8.0 per cent a year, a pace that is far in excess of the region's capacity to meet.

Since there is huge potential for energy trade among the SAARC member countries, as such, all countries in the region subscribe to the need of introducing energy trade on as soon as possible for supporting infrastructure

to grow the economy for affecting the elevation of prosperity of masses. This will also help in further industrialization in the region through establishment of Central Dispatch Center and Transmission Systems.

The transmission system is necessary for the transportation of power and the central dispatch center is must for distribution of power as per requirement of each country on agreed tariff.


In SAARC region there are promising and extensive opportunities of Energy Trade and investment for which moderate policies are required to be framed enabling brighter future and prosperity of our citizens. The Energy can be traded by pooling all the resources and controlled through a centralized agency and regulator.

So far as power and energy trading with neighboring countries is concerned, presently it is based on bilateral agreements such as India is trading with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh whereas it has recently agreed to provide 5,000 MW to Pakistan through a phased programme. The strategies for promotion of trading can be through carrying out sector reforms, setting up suitable institutional arrangements, public private partnership or private sector participation, long term transmission planning and free exchange of information.


In spite of high desire of member states to cooperate and increase energy trade, there are numerous impediments which need to be removed without further delay. Some of the challenges are stated bellow.

I. BILATERAL RELATIONS: Bilateral relations between SAARC member countries especially India and Pakistan remain a barrier for energy trading. A long lasting, peaceful relations between Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will result in stable economies and prosperity in the region.

II. TERRORIST ACTIVITIES: Pakistan and Afghanistan are subjected to war on terror where as Sri Lanka is also disturbed by terrorist activities that impede the developmental activities in these countries and the region.

III. POLITICAL STABILITY. Over the times political instability in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is also one of the factors hampering the progress of development in the region.

IV. SHORTAGE OF FUNDS. Shortage of funds for exploitation of available potential to include environment friendly resources i.e. hydro, solar and wind, etc. In most of the SAARC these are not harnessed fully to capacity.

V. TRANSMISSION LINK & DISPATCH CENTER. Establishment of a Transmission Link & Central Dispatch Center, is the prerequisite for energy trade i.e. export & import of electric power as per prioritized requirement between the SAARC member countries, which if delayed will add to miseries of masses by subjecting them to load shedding and reducing of employment opportunities due to slow growth of economy.

VI. TRUST AND CONFIDENCE: Trust and confidence and reduction of political tension within and across the countries are of prime importance for energy trading.

VII. THE FISCAL STABILITY: The fiscal stability in all SAARC member states is the key for prosperity of the general public and development of resources potential especially in the energy sector.

VIII. DOABLE ACTION PLAN: To promote private sector investment and participation in energy activities in the region, there is need to work together to formulate an achievable action plan for users of power generated through hydroelectric and non-conventional and environment friendly energy resources.

IX. TECHNICAL PERSONNEL & INFRASTRUCTURE: It is essential to meet shortages of technical personnel and infrastructure support through integrated approach between the member states.


In the energy sector this region has tremendous opportunities and sites available for dams for hydro power, adequate resources of oil and gas and plenty reserves of coal for thermal power, adequate sunshine for solar power and sufficient winds for wind power, but we only lack in will power and political leadership.

If the public of SAARC member states unites with honesty and seriously in ending mutual conflicts between different countries, and make synergetic effort to explore the potential resources, the respective governments will have to change their attitudes and direction that will encourage the investors to finance viable projects in individual member states. This will not only change the destiny of general public but will also make the region an example for developing countries, and we can also export the extra power to neighboring non-SAARC member states.

In first phase the investors can finance the feasible projects in states where there is no disturbance e.g. hydro power projects in Bhutan and Nepal under swap mechanism or share on investment, from where 73,000 MW of electricity can be generated and traded to other member states.

In the second phase huge potentials of coal in India and Pakistan can be exploited along with other environment friendly resource potentials i.e. solar and wind in all member states but for all this full commitment and will power is the prerequisite and that Regional economic prosperity should take precedence over political expediency.

As stated earlier there are numerous challenges even then we can overcome with willpower and commitment to change the fate of our respective nations with sincerity, seriousness and with synergy. In this regard let me cite the message of King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk, "Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you every thing and keep nothing; I shall live such a life as good human being that you may find it worthy to serve as an example for your children". I pray to Almighty Allah that the leaders of other SAARC nations may also follow these golden words in letter and sprit.

The write is the Member Pakistan Engineering Council, Former GM, Karachi Electric Supply Corporation, Pakistan.