ADB loan for improving Burma’s electrification network

By NJ Thakuria

Myanmar-power-grid-300x200(Guwahati, 10 Dec 2013): The electrification network in Burma (now known as Myanmar) is expected to improve with a $60 million loan from  Asian Development Bank (ADB), which has sanctioned the first project loan to the southeast Asian country. The ADB loan, sanctioned after its re-engagement with Myanmar is understood to rehabilitate sections of the country’s power distribution network.

“Some 480,000 households in four regions in Myanmar (Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, and Magway) will have better access to a more reliable supply of electricity to support their daily activities,” stated a press statement issued by the ADB on December 9, 2013 from its head office at Manila.

The ADB vice-president Stephen Groff asserted that ‘access to electricity is crucial to development’. Repairing and strengthening existing electricity infrastructure will help reduce system losses, use resources more efficiently and connect more people to the electricity grid more quickly, he added.

“Technical and non-technical losses from Myanmar’s aging distribution system were as high as 18.2% in 2012, meaning almost a fifth of all power generated was lost before reaching customers. The ADB’s loan will fund rehabilitation works to carry electricity more efficiently, including upgrading of existing 66/11 killovolt (kv) and 33/11 kv substations, replacing existing 33 kv and 11 kv distribution lines, replacing existing 11/0.4 kv transformers, and upgrading to digital revenue meters,” the statement elaborated adding that the project would reduce distribution loss by 4 percentage points.

It is reported that Burma’s average electrification ratio has increased, growing from 16% in 2006 to 28% in 2012. The Rangoon city has the highest ratio at 72%, followed by NayPyiTaw (present capital of Burma) at 65% and Mandalay at 35%. In addition to providing support for transmission updates and preventing technical losses, the ADB is working with the National Energy Management Committee to improve coordination between ministries responsible for the country’s energy.

The ADB is also assisting the government in preparing Myanmar energy sector policy, revising the Electricity Law, setting the national transmission and distribution code, and establishing electric equipment standards. A 20-year, long-term energy master plan is also being formulated, revealed the ADB statement.