Hydropower working group launched in Myanmar

The International Finance Corporation and more than 100 members of Myanmar’s private hydroelectric power sector have launched a new working group to help “influence policy and identify solutions to improve upon sustainability and business operations in Myanmar.”

The organization, called the Hydropower Developers’ Working Group, represents more than 100 stakeholders in the country’s hydro sector, including companies, civil society groups, financial institutions and government entities.

An interim executive committee comprised of local and international companies and consultants recently held a meeting in Yangon to work on the group’s agenda, IFC said, with a particular emphasis on strengthening private sector relations with the government.

“The turnout today demonstrates the interest and potential for hydropower companies to start working together better to make a change,” HDWG president Aung Zaw Naing said. “Working together as a group to help us move further, faster. One company alone cannot change an entire sector, even with the best intentions.”

The group will hold annual forums for stakeholders to interact, in addition for seminars on topics including procurement, project documents, environmental and social impact issues, and licensing and permitting.

“Motivating the private sector to be actively involved with policy and environmental and social standard setting will create a more business-enabling environment for Myanmar,” IFC country manager Vikram Kumar said. “Sustainable hydropower is going to require all companies to work together, which is what the HDWG is aiming to achieve.

“It is a unique opportunity for us to sit at the same table and discuss these challenges.”

Hydropower is a key component in the Myanmar government’s plan to provide universal access to electricity by 2030. Currently, about 334 million people, or 66% of the country’s population, are without power.

Myanmar’s HDWG is an offshoot of a similar group established in Laos in 2013. Support for both groups comes from IFC and the Australian government.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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