ISLAMABAD                   -              The World Bank has approved $700 million financing for Pakistan for the Dasu hydropower project that will install 2,160 MW capacity along the main Indus River.

The World Bank Board of Directors has approved a $700 million additional financing to help Pakistan generate low-cost, renewable energy to provide affordable electricity supply to millions of users. This support for one of country’s longer-term development priorities comes as the World Bank is also working with the federal and provincial governments to prepare and respond to the immediate challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pakistan has arranged about $4 billion additional financial assistance from multilateral lending and aid agencies to shore up foreign exchange reserves and budgetary support for fighting adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Pakistan has sought $1.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and had asked the World Bank for $1 billion assistance, including diversion of unutilised funds for other projects for early disbursement, he said. In addition, the Asian Development Bank would provide $350 million immediately and a request had been made for another $900m disbursement by June this year to meet emerging needs.

According to the World Bank, the Additional Financing for Dasu Hydropower Stage I Project will finance the transmission line to complete the first phase of the Dasu hydropower plant that will install 2,160 MW capacity along the main Indus River. Plans for Stage II expansion will double the installed capacity to 4,320MW, making Dasu the largest hydropower plant in the country.

“Pakistan’s energy sector is aiming to move away from high-cost and inefficient fossil fuels towards low-cost, renewable energy to power the national grid,” said Country Director for Pakistan World Bank Illango Patchamuthu. “Along with reforms in the tariff structure, the Dasu Hydropower Project will result in fewer imports of fossil fuels, alleviating the stress on the country’s current account balance.”

The project will help to lower the overall cost of energy generation in Pakistan, benefiting millions of energy users by making electricity more affordable for households and productive sectors, such as manufacturing and agriculture. The Dasu hydropower plant will provide most of its electricity during the summer months to reduce blackouts when demand is the highest. The project also contributes to the socioeconomic development of the communities in Dasu and surrounding areas of the Upper Kohistan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

“The Dasu hydropower plant has a low environmental footprint and is considered to be one of the best hydropower projects in the world,” said Project Task Team Leader Rikard Liden. “It will contribute to reducing Pakistan’s reliance on fossil-fuels and producing clean renewable energy.”

Dasu hydropower station will produce electricity at $0.03/kWh compared to Pakistan’s current average cost of electricity generation of $0.08/kWh. This investment in the energy sector is an important step in Pakistan’s path towards becoming an upper middle-income country by 2047, as articulated in Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future.

Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950. Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in assistance. The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by the Country Partnership Strategy for FY2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery. The current portfolio has 46 projects with a net commitment of $9.1 billion.