$600mn WB funds for rural power

The World Bank Board has approved $ 600 million for Bangladesh to improve the country’s “quality” of power supply in rural areas.

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The funds would be used in the Rural Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project “to reduce system losses and enhance capacity” in the electricity network, the global lender said in a media release on Friday.

Only 42 percent of the rural Bangladesh currently has access to electricity, according to the World Bank.

It said the funds would support new lines and substations as well as upgrade existing lines in the rural areas of Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions.

The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s concessionary arm, would carry a service charge of 0.75 percent and would have 40 years to maturity with a 10-year grace period.

The Bank said the project would reduce technical losses in the rural grid electricity system and would help to ensure that “a greater percentage of electricity generated is reached to rural consumers”.

It said Bangladesh’s rural electrification programme had been globally recognised as “one of the most successful programs in the world”.

But the distribution and transmission system have not kept pace with programme’s rapid expansion in recent years.

It said this project would also provide support for “institutional strengthening of the rural electricity service delivery”.

Its Bangladesh Country Director Johannes Zutt said the project would help reduce poverty by increasing the access to electricity.

“Access to electricity is positively correlated with increase in growth, education and prosperity,” he was quoted as saying in the media release.

“We have also seen that access to electricity increases income opportunities, particularly for women. It increases women’s mobility and participation in decision-making process,” he said.

The Bank’s Team Leader in Dhaka for the Rural Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project Zubair Sadeque said the Board approval of the project was “a testament to the World Bank’s continued commitment to the rural electrification program of Bangladesh”.

Source: bdnews24

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