How Do You Combat Day-Long Power Outages? With Water, Of Course

Oct 08, 2014 - 8:00am

President, U.S.-Pakistan Business Council

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The proposed dam could provide 4,500 megawatts of energy for Pakistan.
The proposed dam could provide 4,500 megawatts of energy for Pakistan.

Can you imagine going without any source of power for 18-20 hours in a day? It seems unthinkable, but that kind of outage is not at all unusual for many people in Pakistan. According to the International Business Times, “on a daily basis, Pakistan’s power demand averages 16,000 MW, but the nation can produce only about 12,000 MW. In the summer months, this gap can be as high as 7,000 MW.” In other words, demand is high and supply is far too short.

To combat the nationwide energy problem, the Government of Pakistan has designed short, medium, and long-term strategies that aim to address key challenges for the country’s energy sector. In the last year, the government launched a number of innovative projects to increase generation capacity - including a mix of projects in coal, solar, and biomass, initiated work on a number of hydro projects, and established the Diamer Basha Dam Project as a top priority for sustainable energy. Upon completion, the dam will use hydropower generation to produce 4,500 megawatts of energy and will grow the water supply available for irrigation and drinking to the surrounding areas.

The DBDP creates both real and profitable opportunities for U.S. companies who are leading efforts to transform both the economic and energy landscape of Pakistan. The energy crisis in Pakistan has slowed economic growth and increased the cost of commerce and trade. As both governments move forward to address Pakistan’s energy needs, there is great potential for partnerships between businesses and governments of both countries. These partnerships not only include the construction of the DBDP, but also projects across Pakistan’s growing energy sector.  

Through the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council (USPBC), the Chamber will continue to work with government agencies on public/private partnerships and to support opportunities related to ongoing development in Pakistan and the region. Both the Government of Pakistan and the U.S. government are making serious efforts to take Diamer Basha from a transformational development opportunity — into an on-the-ground reality. The DBDP is without question a priority project for the Government of Pakistan and the U.S. government is committed to helping Pakistan achieve its economic and energy objectives. However, both governments will rely on the expertise of the private sector to help advance this project, which represents both a trial for the private sector, as well as a major opportunity.

As Pakistan seeks to enhance trade, development and investment opportunities in the country’s energy sector, the business community should continue to support and foster public-private sector dialogue. Moving forward, the Government of Pakistan must continue on its trajectory of economic reforms, and provide the economic and political stability that allows investors to feel confident with the long-term horizons that a large energy and infrastructure project demands.

To learn more about the DBDP and investment opportunities in Pakistan’s energy sector, watch the webcast of today’s event hosted by the Chamber’s USPBC and the USAID. Key speakers and panelists include from the Government of Pakistan, Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar; Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif; Board of Investment Chairman Miftah Ismail. On the U.S. side, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah; the State Department's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman; and Tami Overby, the Chamber’s senior vice president for Asia.

About the Author

About the Author

Espie Jelalian Headshot
President, U.S.-Pakistan Business Council

Esperanza Gomez Jelalian has served as head of the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council (USPBC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since 2003.