Senior Afghan and Uzbek officials signed an agreement on Saturday in which Uzbekistan will sell electricity to Afghanistan for the next 10 years at a reduced price.
The agreement will help Afghanistan save $600 million in electricity costs, the acting Finance Minister Humayun Qayumi said.
According to Qayumi, Afghanistan will pay five cents for each kilowatt of imported power and Uzbekistan will cover the maintenance costs of the transmission line.
“With this agreement, Afghanistan’s system will be synchronized with Uzbekistan’s and this will help us purchase power from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan,” Qayumi said.
Previous agreements for power imports from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were limited to one year and were vulnerable to fluctuating prices, but the price of this 10-year agreement is fixed, according to officials who negotiated the deal.
Uzbek officials said they will export more than 600 megawatts of power to Afghanistan for the next ten years, based on the agreement.
“This agreement between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan is for ten years. Based on the agreement, electricity exports to Afghanistan will increase,” said Shirzad Khadijev, Deputy Minister of Energy of Uzbekistan.
Officials said the agreement will help Afghanistan save $600 million.
Afghanistan currently imports electricity from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, although a recent insurgent attack destroyed pylons carrying power from Uzbekistan, causing blackouts in Kabul and across a third of the country.
Amid the ongoing emergency, the US State Department on Thursday issued a statement criticizing the Afghan government’s procurement policies, oversight committee, and financial management practices, related in part to energy projects. The US says it is not abandoning a large energy transmission project in Afghanistan’s south, but it is withholding funds and cutting programs, “due to identified Afghan corruption” the statement said.