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September 25, 2014

The Lack of an Electricity Sector Strategy Will Stymie Economic Growth, JICA Official Warns Myanmar

photoMyanmar builds its record of strong economic growth.

The head of JICA's Myanmar Office has published an opinion piece in The Myanmar Times emphasizing that Myanmar needs to make important but difficult collective decisions with long-term perspective in order to meet the rising demand for electricity. In the article, Masahiko Tanaka warns that failing to meet the increasing demand for electricity would be disastrous for the country’s growth, as seen in the bitter experiences of other countries. To date, the country seems to lack a “coherent energy strategy,” with no defined approach as to how to meet the increasing demand, no alternative to stagnant investment projects and little or no consideration to serious risks and financial implications of high dependence on independent power producers (IPPs). Given too much of the country's natural gas reserves and hydropower potential are set to be exported, he encourages the government to amend, where possible, those export agreements so as to increase domestic supply, be open to all possible energy sources with due consideration to energy security, cost, and environmental and social implications, and review its dependence on IPPs. But above all, the country must quickly decide on a strategy, he argues. Finally, Tanaka claims that political leaders, both inside and outside the government, should promote public debate, help reach a national consensus and sustain commitment by the whole nation in order to meet the electricity needs, while there are “no easy solutions.”

The piece was published in The Myanmar Times issue 745, Sep 08-14, 2014.


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