Energy seizes attention in Investment Summit, Nepal poised to be ‘Power House’ in South Asia

Nepal Investment Summit 2019

By Ramesh Lamsal and Ashok Ghimire
KATHMANDU, March 29: The participants of the ongoing Investment Summit-2019 have stressed on investment in hydro resources in Nepal, referring it’s potential to be one of the important foundations for the prosperity in South Asia.

Energy sector seems to have significantly drawn the attention of over 600 dignitaries from 40 countries in the two-day event where the government has presented eight mega projects giving special emphasis, while the private sector has presented 16 such projects.

On the inaugural session on Friday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Minister for Finance Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada, Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun and former Minister for Finance Dr Ram Sharan Mahat have also called upon the investors to consider an investment in the energy sector of Nepal.
They were of the view that in the context of the government that seeks to generate 15,000 megawatt electricity in 10 years, Nepal’s rich hydro resources could be a ‘Power House’ for the South Asia.

The foreign investors of the Summit also lauded the energy generated from the hydropower of Nepal and its economic impact and expressed their willingness for cooperation for investment on the same.

PM Oli argued the factors as easy legal frame devised to attract foreign investment in energy sector, Investment Board entrusted to facilitate the mega hydro power projects above 200 megawatts and collaboration on the Grid Interconnection among the BIMSTEC-member nations and energy cooperation agreements signed among the South Asian countries among other had enabled a favorable investment-friendly climate in the country.

Nepal has sought various dimensions of investment by inking bilateral agreements on energy cooperation with India, China and Bangladesh. India has implemented the guidelines it had issued to facilitate cross-border power trading which further paved a way for Nepal to power trading.

Bangladesh has decided to purchase 500 megawatt energy generated from the Upper Karnali hydro power project. The Bangladeshi government is preparing to import around 9,000 megawatt of electricity from Nepal by 2040.

Likewise, an agreement in principle has been inked between Nepal and India for energy banking by exporting electricity produced in Nepal during the monsoon. Preparation was afoot to implement this agreement.

Similarly, the government has already launched a scheme ‘Nepal’s Water, People’s Investment’, aiming to generate some 3,000 megawatt of electricity within three years and 5,000 megawatt of power in five years by investing altogether Rs 698.9 billion in 19 hydropower projects.

Big projects like the Upper Tamakoshi are on the verge of completion. According to Finance Minister Dr Khatiwada, foreign investment is necessary to advance towards the expected achievements in the energy sector as only the mobilization of domestic labor and capital is not enough to meet the target. Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pun is also of the same opinion as Minister Khatiwada.

“There is high demand for energy in the South Asian countries advancing towards the economic development and Nepal with the proper utilization of available water resources could turn itself into a ‘power house’ capable of meeting such demand. For that, foreign investment in big projects is imperative,” he added.

Similarly, Former Finance Minister Dr Mahat described Nepal as a ‘power house’ of clean energy, encouraging investors and experts present in the Summit for investment. The participants from India, Bangladesh and China highlighted the significance of Nepal’s hydro energy, adding that high profit was possible from investment here.

India’s Central Electricity Regulatory Commission Secretary Sanoj Kumar Jha was of the view that Nepal was a reliable source for energy, adding that India was ready for cooperation.

Similarly, Power China’s General Manager said they were ready for further investment in Nepal under the Belt and Road Initiative. “Chinese investors are interested in investing in Nepal’s energy sector,” he assured.