ISLAMABAD: Nine countries in the Central and West Asia signed a historic declaration on Friday that would accelerate cross-border cooperation on energy issues and move the region a step closer to the creation of a regional energy market.
Energy ministers and leaders from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan , Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed the 10-point declaration at the end of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (Carec) Energy Ministers’ Dialogue held in Tashkent, said an Asian Development Bank (ADB) press statement.
The meeting marked the first time energy ministers from the Central and West Asia came together to discuss common regional energy challenges, the statement added.
The declaration sets the region on a faster reform path towards more liberal energy markets with greater private sector participation and investment, increased power connections and exchanges between countries, and a strong commitment to tap renewable energy sources and clean technologies.
The group also endorsed a new Carec energy strategy for the next 10 years that would provide the roadmap to meet the region’s goal of a secure energy future.
The meeting of ministers has come at a critical time for the region as its energy sector faces a number of challenges. Carec countries are rich in natural resources, but uneven distribution of these resources – compounded by inadequate infrastructure and inefficient state-owned energy utilities – means some countries continue to face power shortages.
To keep pace with the region’s economic growth and with an increasing demand for power, the region will need to double its current power system capacity by 2030.
The capacity expansion will require sizable investments, estimated to be about $400 billion in cumulative investments up to 2030. Regional energy cooperation, modern energy markets and a significant increase in private investment in the energy sector is an opportunity to overcome these challenges.
The declaration committed the region to policy reforms in creating a more conducive business environment for attracting private investments across the region.
Speaking on the occasion, ADB Director General for Central and West Asia Werner Liepach said, “The region cannot achieve the level of investment needed without large private investments.”
“Private investments demand predictive policies, stable regulations, transparency and good governance,” he added.