News - Afghanistan
Afghanistan's first gas-based power plant is set to be built in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, at a cost of 75 million USD.
The power plant is expected to be capable of generating 50 megawatts of electricity, and will be constructed by a private contractor. Officials from the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum have assured that enough natural gas reserves exist in the northern regions of the country to provide sufficient fuel for the plant.
The project plans have emerged from an agreement signed between the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Energy and Water and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) and Ghazanfar Group.
"The Ministry of Mines is fully prepared to facilitate investors to take charge of developing such power generation plants, which are a key element to industrial development," Deputy Minister of Mines and Petroleum Abdul Qadoos Hamidi told TOLOnews on Wednesday.
Ghazanfar Group head Ismail Ghazanfar has said that the plant could power up to 50 factories.
Breshna officials have also celebrated the project as a major milestone for Afghanistan. "We can use the power for commercial purposes and residential areas, including the industrial sector," Breshna head Abdul Raziq Samadi said.
The Ministry of Energy and Water, meanwhile, voiced optimism that the project would mark the beginning of a trend of self-reliance when it comes to energy in Afghanistan. "I am delighted that today energy production has started inside the country, and we hope that this will be extended so that we can also use hydro power, which comes through water resources," Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Shujauddin Rezayee said.
Afghanistan currently imports the majority of its energy from abroad, despite having immense natural resource reserves in the form of natural gas, oil and minerals. In addition, Afghanistan's many rivers, which flow into many of its neighboring countries, have long been considered an untapped source of immense hydro-power capability.