Nepal’s minister for energy launched a campaign on Monday to provide electricity to all of its 28 million people, announcing a raft of measures to tap into the vast hydropower potential of the country.
Janardan Sharma, the energy minister, who came to power in October last year, announced the “Light Nepal” campaign in a press conference in the ministry on Monday.
Having already achieved an end to rolling power outages in three cities including capital Kathmandu, Sharma said another half a dozen towns and cities would have round the clock power despite the decrease in water flow during the lean winter season in the Himalayan nation.
Nepal aims to generate power by tapping the thousands of rivers that cascade through its mountains. Experts say the Himalayan nation has potential to generate at least 40,000 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectricity.
The country’s current output is a mere 800 MW, but some 3,000 MW will be added to the national grid in the next few years while projects of up to 5,000 MW are under consideration.
Sharma has pledged to boost generation capacity to 10,000 MW in next 10 years. To achieve the goal, he introduced a slogan called “Nepal’s Water, People’s Investment”, unveiling a website asking people to pledge funds for investment in the hydropower sector.
“We were encouraged to do this after the growing interest among people to buy shares of hydropower companies. We will use the funds to finance multipurpose hydro plants,” said Anup Prasad Upadhyay, secretary of the energy ministry.
Nepal’s energy ministry has already established a hydro generation company and a grid company and is setting up a power trade company and an engineering company.
Once its own power needs are met, Nepal plans to export to neighboring India and South Asian neighbor Bangladesh, both of which are willing to buy hydropower from Nepal.
Sharma, who visited Dhaka in early December, said the two countries are all set to sign a power trade agreement.
He also announced plans for the construction of new transmission lines, along with tax cuts and low interest rates for private investors.
By Deepak Adhikari in Nepal