Photo shows a night fair in Shwebo, Myanmar. Photo by Sun Guangyong from People’s Daily
Photo shows a night fair in Shwebo, Myanmar. Photo by Sun Guangyong from People’s Daily

By Sun Guangyong,

Chinese electricity companies have been working with local residents in Myanmar to help the latter tackle electricity shortages.

Of Myanmar’s 10.88 million households, half have experienced electricity shortages and about 43,000 villages have yet to be connected to the national electricity network.

Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi had said that to improve people’s livelihood, the first thing to do is to develop the electricity industry.

To increase electricity supply and develop the electricity industry is the priority task of the Myanmar government, as well as the urgent need of the country to boost economy and improve people’s well-being.

U Thaung Tun, Myanmar’s Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, expressed that Myanmar is willing to accelerate implementation of cooperative projects with China in key fields such as electricity and transportation.

According to credible sources, currently about half of Myanmar is connected with electricity and the country is expected to achieve full electricity coverage by 2030.

With street lamps, the road connecting Mandalay, Naypyidaw and Yangon has become much busier than before.

“Myanmar’s economy is constantly developing. To address electricity shortages, Chinese companies and their Burmese counterparts are conducting comprehensive cooperation in power source construction, power transmission and distribution, and electric technology,” said Tan Shufu, the Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar.

To strengthen electricity cooperation is an important part of the co-construction of the Belt and Road between China and Myanmar, said U Win Khaing, Myanmar’s
Union Minister for Electricity and Energy.

Such cooperation is vital for the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), and will accelerate infrastructure connectivity of the whole region, the minister said, adding that Myanmar is willing to work with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the CMEC to further China-Myanmar electricity and energy cooperation, achieve win-win outcomes and push bilateral relations for new progress.

U Win Khaing recently attended the opening ceremony of the Shwebo transformer substation in Shwebo of Myanmar’s northwestern Sagaing region. The 230 KV power transmission line and substation project was built by State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC). It could deliver electricity from northern Myanmar to the demand centers in the southern part of the country and satisfy industrial, commercial and residential demands.

The transmission capacity of the double-circuit transmission line between the state of Kachin and the 230 KV power transmission line and substation project could reach 640,000 kilowatts. Running nonstop with a full load in a year, the project could transmit 5.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity.

The project gives Sagaing economical and stable electricity supply and brings tangible benefits to local residents, said Chief Minister of Sagaing U Myint Naing.

Within two years, the number of hotels in Shwebo has exceeded 20. At night, the streets are illuminated and shops on both sides of the street are decorated in colorful lights, making the fruits displayed for sale more attractive.

“More and more people now like to take a walk, dine or go shopping at night, making the city livelier. Now, electricity outages and circuit breaker tripping are a thing of the past. With stable electricity supply, I haven’t used the electricity generator for a long time,” said a local resident.

Built in 2004, the Shwebo Industrial Zone is home to about 200 companies, such as rice processing companies and home appliance manufacturers.

According to the person in charge of the zone, the place was supported by a power transmission line and a substation project, but as the electricity network was aging and the power supply was insufficient, it had experienced frequent circuit breaker tripping and power outages. As companies complained a lot about this, it was difficult to attract more investment.

Now, with electricity shortage no longer a problem, more and more companies are planning to enter the industrial zone, he said.

The Thaketa gas-fired combined cycle power plant in Thaketa township, Yangon is also constructed and operated by a Chinese company.

Having the highest level of operational efficiency and being the most energy-efficient gas-fired power plant in Myanmar, the power produced by the plant accounts for 15 percent of local electricity consumption.

In November 2019, PowerChina Resources Limited, the overseas investment arm of POWERCHINA, signed an agreement with the Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise to purchase electricity from the Kyaukpyu gas-fired power plant.

The Kyaukpyu gas-fired power plant, adopting gas-fired turbines and steam turbines, could generate one billion kilowatt hours of electricity upon completion. It will greatly improve power supply to the surrounding areas, give a boost to local economy, create employment, and support the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Over the past three years, Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy has been increasing power supply at an annual rate of 12 percent, said U Win Khaing.

“A lot of Chinese electricity companies have come to Myanmar to make contribution to our electricity development. They are very welcomed by the Myanmar society and their power production and transmission projects have demonstrated the strength of Chinese companies in electricity infrastructure construction,” said the minister.

Photo shows the project where Myanmar’s northern state of Kachin is connected with a 230KV backbone project. Photo by Sun Guangyong from People’s Daily