Afghanistan signs $160 million renewable energy deal with US, Turkey and India

110 megawatts will be added to the country's grid. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 September 2020

Afghanistan signs $160 million renewable energy deal with US, Turkey and India

  • Solar and wind power projects will be developed in Kabul, Balkh and Herat provinces
  • Afghanistan imports 1,200 megawatts of energy from Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

KABUL: Solar photovoltaic and wind power projects signed by Afghanistan under a $160 million international deal on Wednesday evening will add 110 megawatts to the country’s grid in the next 16 months, officials said.

The projects will be developed in Kabul, Balkh and Herat by a local company with partners from Turkey, India and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

“With the implementation of these projects, we will not only witness improvement in the energy sector, but (in other areas) as energy is the basic need for the improvement of other sectors,” Lima Khoram, policy and development chief at the Afghan Finance Ministry, told Arab News on Thursday.

“We will also see the development of other major sectors. This is not only good news for the citizens, but for all investors and entrepreneurs too,” she said.

Afghanistan needs to increase access to energy to enable development — and the projects signed on Wednesday are going to be the country’s biggest investment in solar power so far, according to Wahidullah Tawhidi, a spokesman for DABS, the country’s main power producer.

“This will be a highly efficient work for the generating of more electricity in Afghanistan,” he said.

Tawhidi told Arab News that the projects will be developed in partnership with USAID by an Afghan company, a firm from Turkey, and one from India.

One of the projects, a photovoltaic station designed to produce 40 megawatts of power, will be built in the northern Balkh province, which is the main gateway to Central Asia.

Two plants — one solar and one wind powered with a capacity of 25 megawatts each — will be installed in western Herat province, near the border with Iran Turkmenistan.

The fourth one, a floating solar power station, will be built at Naghlu dam, east of Kabul.

Afghanistan currently imports 1,200 megawatts of energy from Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as it can only generate 400 megawatts from its dams.

The country, whose infrastructure has been destroyed by decades of conflict, requires 7,500 megawatts for its nearly 33 million population to have access to electricity.

The lack of security in recent years caused many businesses to flee Afghanistan so the renewable energy agreement is expected to encourage more foreign investment.

Talha Hidayat, director general for public-private partnership at the Finance Ministry, said that 16 projects worth $3.1 billion, which include two power dams and involve the agricultural and telecommunications sectors, were ready for investment.

“Feasibility studies are finalized. We will announce it for open competition. Currently nine national and international firms have shown interest,” he said.
 


Saudi Arabia signs AI agreements with IBM, Alibaba and Huawei

Updated 22 October 2020

Saudi Arabia signs AI agreements with IBM, Alibaba and Huawei

  • Deal with Alibaba cloud will 'help Saudi Arabia’s journey to develop world-class smart cities'

RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) signed three agreements with IBM, Alibaba and Huawei on Thursday.

The memorandums of understanding came on the second day of the  Global AI Summit being held in the Kingdom.

The deal with Alibaba Cloud is designed to “empower Saudi cities with intelligence-driven smart city solutions,” Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The partnership will support Saudi Arabia’s journey to develop world-class smart cities.

SDAIA and Alibaba Cloud will work together to develop digital and AI solutions in safety and security, mobility, urban planning, energy, education, health, among others.

“Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has clear goals to transform KSA cities into smart ones by unlocking the value of city data as a national asset to realize Vision 2030 aspirations,” SDAIA president Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghandi, said.

“Our journey to creating smart cities that rank among the smartest in the world is already well underway with Riyadh City. 

This partnership with Alibaba Cloud will support the acceleration of the transformation of our cities, through enabling intelligence-driven technologies and AI techniques that will fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life to our citizens.”

Phillip Liu, General Manager of Middle East and Africa, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, said: “We are proud to bring Alibaba Cloud’s proven cloud and AI products as well as our global experiences and to combine these with the expertise from SDAIA.”