Huge scope for Tajikistan, Pakistan Cooperation in Energy; other sectors

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 SHERALI JONONOV
Ambassador of Tajikistan talks to Centreline and DNA
Ansar Mahmood Bhatti
Mr. Sherali Jononov is a career diplomat. Ever since his appointment as Ambassador to Pakistan, he has undertaken a number of steps to further strengthen relations between Tajikistan and Pakistan. The construction of Tajik Embassy building inside the diplomatic enclave has already started, which speaks volumes for the close relationship between the two brotherly countries. Mr. Jononov is keen in further expanding and diversifying bilateral relations. His country is especially keen to help Pakistan in the energy sector. Here are excerpts from his interview for readers’ interest.

Since we are going to talk about energy and we know that Tajikistan is third largest producer of hydroelectric power by potential, I would like to ask you to give a short inside about energy capacities of your country.

Exactly, Tajikistan is the world’s third largest producer of hydroelectric power after the U.S. and Russia by potential. It posses around 4% of the world hydropower potential which is estimated at 527 billion kWh annually. Currently, installed capacity of hydro power stations (HPs) is more than 5 million kW. In other worlds, we are now producing around 5% of existed potential. Hydroelectric generation accounts for 76 percent of total energy output in the country. Energy consumption per capita is among the lowest in the NIS.

 

Please tell us something about CASA-1000 project and how can Pakistan and other countries benefit from this project?

 

CASA-1000 is a power line that will allow transmission of green and cheap electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan with total length of more than 1000 kilometres. “CASA” stands for Central Asia and South Asia and number 1000 is the initially envisaged capacity of the power line in megawatts but actual capacity of the line would be 1300 MW.  My country, Tajikistan, after being disconnected from Central Asia Energy Grid has no other options, except selling surplus summer electricity to South Asian countries. Spilled water in summer period from hydropower plants of Tajikistan causes losses of generation of green energy which could be effectively exported to other countries of the Central and South Asia, particularly, to Pakistan and Afghanistan who could use this energy for further development of their industries and provide better social conditions to their people. Income from the export of electricity will support the development of the economy in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as, to support reconstruction of their energy sector and shorten periods of lack of electricity in winters. It will also help build close economic relations with our neighbours, namely Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It will help Afghanistan demonstrate its viability as transit country linking two regions.

 

 

Can you share with us details of the feasibility study of the project?

Canadian company SNC “Lavalin”, a developer of the project feasibility study justifies the CASA-1000 project viability based on current and projected volume of spill water of hydropower plants in Tajikistan in the period of Мау–September. According to calculations, even in conservative prospect without taking into account the growth of energy generation until 2035, there will be sufficient volume of energy and water resources to maintain the required amount of electricity generation needed for the CASA-1000 project.

Thus, for example, the volume of underproduction water spill over the past 4 years was as follows: 2010 – 7.4 billion kWh (normal year);  2011 – 3.4 billion kWh (dry уеаr); 2012 – 6.8 billion kWh; and 2013 – 3.8 billion kWh.

It should be noted that during summer seasons reservoir of Norak dam will always be filled until the end of seasonal period of energy supply of CASA-1000. The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan takes necessary measures to address the issue of  winter energy shortage (2 – 2.5 billion kWh) and to promote strengthening the country’s energy networks.  For these purposes, during past years, more than USD2.2 billion of foreign and domestic investments were attracted.

In 2009, Tajikistan launched Sangtuda-1 hydropower station (HPS) with capacity of 670MW and in 2012-2013 Sangtuda – 2 with capacity of 220 MW. Moreover energy efficiency measures have been introduced in TALCO aluminium production unit, which will reduce its electricity demand during the winter and contribute to surplus energy for CASA-1000 in the summer period. The first unit of Dushanbe Thermal Power Plant–2 with total capacity of 200 MW has been just launched two weeks ago.

As I mentioned Tajikistan currently faces electricity shortage in winter only, which is in no way related with the summer excesses that provides electricity for supply within CASA-1000 project in the period from Мау to September. Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that the average annual flow in the Vakhsh River from 1932 to 2009, for fivе mоnths (Мау-Sерtember)  did not get significant changes. In addition, according to scientific reports water flow in Tajikistan is expected to increase by 2050.

CASA 1000 feasibility studies estimate average growth of demand of 2.4%, which  is much higher than those of CAREC regional master plan study (which 1.1%). In fact actual consumption energy  from 2009 till 2014 decreased slightly due to the significant growth of usage of energy-saving technologies.

According to information provided from our Afghan colleagues the possibility of construction of the second power line over Salang pass has bееn endorsed bу “Fitchner” company. There are several alternative routes bypassing Salang pass and we will consider all available options and choose least cost efficient route for CASA-1000.

The project envisages the use its capacity for export of energy by other countries during non-summer period in line with Open Access provisions. The power line is designed as DC power line to ensure the safety and efficient transmit over long distance.

Please underscore various projects in the energy field that would be implemented in 2014 ?

The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan pays particular importance to the rehabilitation of its generating capacities and electricity networks of the country. For this year, the implementation of the following projects will be initiated: Rehabilitation of Golovnaya HPS (АDВ grant – USD 136 million); Rehabilitation of Kayrokum HPS (grant and loan from EBRD, EIB – USD 154 million).

I would like to point the fact that at the moment, modernization of three generating units of Norak HPS, replacement of Open Dispatch Device-220kV and Complex Dispatch Device-220 kV have been completed; replacement process is being carried out in Ореn Dispatch Device – 500 kV, Complex Dispatch Device – 500 kV of Norak HPS.

For the period of 2010 – 2020 it is expected that the accumulation of investment for rehabilitation of generation capacities and infrastructure of Tajikistan will be approximately around USD 1.1 billion. The capacity of energy sector of the country after modernization will increase by 350-400MW.

How would you describe bilateral relations between the two countries?

 

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan established diplomatic relationship with the Republic of Tajikistan in 1992 but cooperation between our two countries started from 1991. Geographically Tajikistan is the nearest Central Asian State to Pakistan – there is only fourteen kilometres between two countries.

Following the acquisition of Tajikistan’s independence, our bilateral relations have entered a new phase. Pakistan is one the first countries who recognized the independence of Tajikistan and established diplomatic ties with it, and opened its embassy in Dushanbe in 1993. The Republic of Tajikistan opened its diplomatic mission in Pakistan four years later, in 1997. Thus, bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries started developing in different fields.

In this period, the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Gen Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz paid official visits to Tajikistan. The President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon also visited Pakistan officially. Both the Presidents announced after their official meetings and talks for stepping up the efforts to enhance bilateral relations.

In 1997, Tajikistan’s consular offices started functioning in Islamabad and Karachi. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan paid official visits to Pakistan in 1998 and 2004. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Abdul Sattar paid an official visit to Tajikistan on April 11, 2002.

Both countries are cooperating with each other at various world forums. Can you tell us something more about this cooperation?

Tajikistan and Pakistan together took part in settlement of regional issues, contribute to building up integration processes within the Organization of Economic Corporation, the Conference for the mutual confidence of the Asian countries and the Shanghai Corporation Organization.

Pakistan really can be a gateway of the Central Asia for trade and commerce and that would be a tremendous source of revenue from the states of this region. From the Pakistan Point-of-view, and equally, it would provide opportunities for Central Asian states such as Tajikistan, to boost cheaper exports.

In relations between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan there is a strong legal base, which covers virtually all areas of bilateral relations. To promote Pak – Tajik bilateral relations, for the last few years, both governments have exchanged high level of diplomatic and trade delegations. Pakistan and Tajikistan have signed more than 30 agreements, protocols and memorandums of understanding (MoU’s) to extend cooperation in energy, communications, insurance, investments and industry, air transport, banking and financial, agricultural and food industry, transport and constructions of roads, science and technology, education, health, tourism, culture on the basis of mutual equality and increase the current level of trade.

 

Please share with our readers cooperation between two countries to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and religious extremism?

Indeed terrorism, drug trafficking, religious extremism and other transnational crimes pose serious challenges before any country, particularly in our region, and to combat them requires cross-border collaborations.  Both sides work on countering regional terrorism, drug trafficking, religious extremism and ensuring stability and security in Asia.  Our law-enforcement authorities have a good cooperation links for dealing with all these, so-called “modern threats”.

There is a Joint Economic Commission functioning between the two governments, which conducted Fourth meeting of Joint Commission on commercial, economic, science and technical cooperation between the Republic of Tajikistan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Dushanbe on February 28, 2011.  By the end of 2005, the Pak-Tajik relations entered into a new era of progress and development with inauguration of Tajik Embassy in Islamabad. Tajikistan opened its embassy in Islamabad in February 2005. The construction of the building of Tajikistan Embassy started in Diplomatic Enclave in 2013.

The activities in the relations restarted and in the result of it, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce House has spent the exhibition of the samples of Pakistan industry with two trade centers, in Dushanbe and Khujand cities of Tajikistan.

Gwadar port can further bring Tajikistan and Pakistan closer. Can you share more details in this regard?

Tajikistan is in a dire need of access to the world through Pakistani port like Gwadar.

For the advancement of the communication projects, the government has adopted strategy to construct new highways and bridges to link Tajikistan with neighbouring countries. Opening the highways of Kulob – Khorugh – Kulma-Karakorum , Istiqlol Tunnel, 4  bridges between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, reconstruction of Dushanbe – Qurghonteppa highway and also the construction of Dushanbe – Nurobod – Jirgatol – Saritosh are considered as positive steps for the communication advancement. The realization of these projects will help Tajikistan’s access to the ports of Pakistan.

What are the salient features of the “open door policy’ announced by the President of Tajikistan?

In order to improve and promote the mutually beneficial relations with foreign countries, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan announced the strategy of “open door policy”, which is considered as successful one.

The Republic of Tajikistan has diplomatic relations with more than 130 countries of the world and has the full membership in more than 40 regional and international organizations. Nowadays, about 30 countries have their embassies in Tajikistan.

 

What is contribution of tourism to Tajik economy?

It is well-known that tourism is one of the highly profitable field of the world economy and an economic phenomenon of the 20th century. Tourism plays an important role in generating GDP, revitalization of foreign trade balance, employment of population and creation of new additional jobs and promotes the development of various sectors such as transport and communications, culture, arts, production of consumer goods and especially service sector of the economy in majority of countries.

Tajikistan has also rich historical and cultural inheritances and natural resources and has a real potential for attracting more tourists to the country. Having taken into account the above-mentioned factors, the Government of Tajikistan has identified the tourism as a priority of its economic policy.

Tajikistan established fruitful cooperation with the World Tourism Organization (WTO) from the very beginning of its accession to this Organization.  In May 2010, T. Rifai, WTO Secretary General,  visited Tajikistan and had successful meetings with Emomali Rahmon,  the President of the Republic of Tajikistan and a number of officials in relevant ministries and agencies of the country. A number of tourism related events are held every year, the main purpose of which is attraction of tourists to the country. Also,

with a view to integrating Tajikistan into the international tourism process, the representatives of the country have been participating in the biggest tourism exhibitions held in Berlin (Germany), Tokio (Japan) and London (UK) since 2008, and, happily, the world tourism community recognized Tajikistan as the country with four Silk Road directions.

 

Tajikistan has developed excellent trade relations with various countries including Pakistan. What is trade volume between the two countries?

Tajikistan’s foreign trade relations are developed with 88 countries. In this regard it should be highlighted that bilateral trade between Tajikistan and Pakistan has increased especially within last ten years from 100 thousand to 100 million US dollars.

The first exhibition of industrial products of Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Tajikistan took place in Lahore in 2004, which was opened by then Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan A. Akilov.

 

Please give us a brief account of religious and spiritual relations between Tajikistan and Pakistan?

Apart from trade and economic ties, Tajikistan has also spiritual and religious relations with Pakistan. Great saint /sufi Hazrat Syed Amir Kabir Ali Hamdani (known as Hazrat Shah-e-Hamdan) preached Islam throughout the sub-continent and Central Asia. The shrine of this saint is located in city of Kulob, Tajikistan. It is worth to mention that Tajikistan celebrates 700 years anniversary of Hamdani and 600 anniversaries of the other Great saint/sufi and poet Hazrat Abdurahman Jami this year.

The two countries need to use cultural relations and the old and deep historical common roots to strengthen Pak-Tajik relations and to translate them into enhanced cooperation in a broad spectrum of areas, as said by Mr. Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.

We know that Allama Iqbal  is very popular in Tajikistan and please tell something more about it.

Tajik people have the warmth of affection and admiration towards “Shair-e-Mashriq” Allama Iqbal. Is very evident as the treat him like other Persian and Tajik poets Abuabdullo Rudaki, Abulqosim Firdavsi, Ibn Sino, Fariddudin Attor,  Mavlana Jaloliddini Balkhi (Rumi), Kamoli Khujandi, Abdurahmoni Jami, Abdulqodir Bedil and others. His progressive and wisdom  not only endorsed in the Asia but also all round in the world. Allama Iqbal poetical and philosophical works have remained a beacon for people of East.

Recently by support of the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and also participation of the Embassy of Pakistan to Tajikistan were published “Kulliyoti Forsi” and “Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”.

SAILIENT FEASTURES OF CASA-1000 PROJECT:

 

  • Ensures a steady source of revenue from  surplus hydropower exports  for Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic, the weakest economies in Central Asia
  • Uses excess summer electricity that is currently being spilled
  • Alleviates electricity shortages in Pakistan during  the peak summer season
  • Replaces fuel-based power generation in Afghanistan and Pakistan with clean hydropower
  • Establishes Afghanistan as a viable transit country, enhancing growth prospects
  • Requires no new power generation investments

 

PROJECT COST

 

Kyrgyz Republic                   US$ 200 million

Tajikistan                              US$ 250 million

Afghanistan                          US$ 300 million

Pakistan                                US$ 200 million

Total                                       US$ 950 million

 

 

PROJECT STATUS

IGC Secretariat strengthened – Executive Director (ED) appointed; USAID funding additional Advisor to the ED; Secretariat accounts audited. Project commercial structure finalized – two options were reviewed (with and without setting up a separate project company.) The option of “Contractual JV” (without an SPV for CASA) is preferred by JWG; IGC resolution has been developed and endorsed by two countries (Afghanistan and Tajikistan).

Preparation work is proceeding with Joint Working Group (JWG) through monthly VCs and face-to-face meetings.

Project commercial contract framework and Model PPA developed and is under review/discussion by the countries. IFC Agreement to support procurement of constructor/operator signed by all. The Joint Working Group is working closely with the IFC to prepare bidding documents for procuring engineer/procure/construct/operate services for the project.

 

 

Country capacity and commitment to work on commercial deal

 

Maintain continued commitment  and build capacity (country advisors) to sustain the overall momentum of the Project. One country’s slowness affects the entire process. Support in bidding process (bidding advisors – IFC) Perception from outside (links to Rogun/Kambarata, security in Afghanistan, etc.)

 

Financing gap – a critical issue

 

A key assumption for the preferred structure is that the project will be fully financed by IFIs (no private investments). Two committed financiers (WB and IsDB); Gulf Coordination Group (AKA “Arab Funds”) interested in financing via IsDB;