KABUL, April 12 Asia Pulse - The US Energy Association http://www.usea.org/ Monday urged Afghanistan to hand over power generation and supply to the private sector to ensure a prompt provision of the facility.
The Afghan Water and Power Ministry responded positively to the suggestion floated at a seminar on reforming the conflict-battered country's power sector held in Inter-Continental Hotel here.
Afghan Water and Power Minister Ismail Khan, commenting on the proposal, told Pajhwok: "We are ready to involve the private sector in generation and supply of electricity in order to bring efficiency to this vital sector."
In the thick of the reconstruction effort, American Energy Association's representative Charles Ebinger proposed, Afghanistan should jack up power tariff with a view to speeding up the revival of its economy hit by decades of war.
He continued the private sector, provided with an enabling environment, was willing to work anywhere and anytime.
"But the price of electricity should go up," he reiterated, a call that drew opposition from other speakers.
Some participants and analysts believe the time is not yet ripe for handing over electricity generation to the private sector.
"How can an Afghan, earning barely US$50 a month, afford to pay higher power charges?" asked one speaker.
Professor of Economics Nazir Ahmad Shahidi thought it was difficult for private entrepreneurs to invest in the power sector in the prevailing situation.
"Investment in infrastructure development has to come from the government," he argued.
Even in this capital city, the electricity system continues to be grossly deficient - thanks to decades of debilitating war. Despite three years of hectic efforts to work it back to health, the system is marred by frequent power outages.
"Well-organized systems of generating, supplying and distributing electricity have to be put in place, with the government also playing a regulatory role," stressed American lawyer Tom West, who also spoke on the occasion.
The seminar was attended by representatives from the US, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Uganda, Mongolia and India, who put forward proposals for streamlining the Afghan power sector.
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