The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged US$200 million toward development of the 4,500-MW Diamer Basha Dam hydroelectric project in Pakistan. The funding is being used for assessment of environmental and social effects of the proposed project as well as preparation of a financial package.
USAID, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Pakistan Business Council, hosted a business opportunities meeting in Washington, D.C., October 8, 2014. More than 100 individuals attended the meeting to get technical specifics about the project and to discuss potential financing scenarios.
U.S. government officials participating in the meeting included:
- Richard Olson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
- Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of USAID
- Daniel Feldman, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan for the U.S. Department of State
- Michael Curtis, director of U.S. Energy Programs, Pakistan, USAID
These officials were emphatic about the importance of renewable energy development in Pakistan, and the U.S.’s commitment to aiding Pakistan in meeting this goal. “We will not be distracted and we will not lose focus,” Feldman said. “We are not going to eradicate poverty or resolve climate change without taking on large renewable energy projects, and Diamer Basha in Pakistan is perhaps at the top of the global list.”
USAID already has issued a US$17.9 million contract for the environmental and social impact assessment of the project, awarded to MWH.
USAID also has announced it is seeking bids from international investment firms to provide financial advisory services to the government of Pakistan as well as from international consulting firms to conduct a technical assessment of the project’s design.
The Diamer Basha Dam project is proposed to be built on the Indus River, about 415 kilometers from Islamabad. Main features of the project include:
- 272-meter-high roller compacted concrete dam
- 14-gate spillway
- reservoir with live storage of 6.4 million acre feet
- two underground powerhouses
View this project video for more details:
During the October 8 meeting, several Pakistani officials — including Minister of Finance H.E. Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Minister of Water and Power H.E. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Zafar Mahmood, and Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Jalil Abbas Jilani — shared details about the project and generally conveyed their commitment to hydropower development.
“While Pakistan is pursing all kinds of electricity sources, I am a firm believer that our country must exploit its hydro potential to reduce the price of electricity and resolve our electricity shortage problems, Minister of Water and Power H.E. Khawaja Muhammad Asif said. “Devleopment of Diamer Basha is essential to the success of our national economy.”