Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed an agreement for a $325-million loan to provide electricity to off-grid communities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab as almost half of Pakistan’s rural population remains deprived of electricity.
With the signing of the agreement, Pakistan will be eligible to draw the money, subject to progress on the Access to Clean Energy Investment Programme.
In November last year, the board of directors of the Manila-based lender approved the loan to enhance Pakistan’s energy security by helping install clean energy sources and improve people’s access to electricity in two of the country’s provinces.
The project will be implemented over a period of five years from 2017 to 2021 and will provide support for achieving increased access to sustainable and more reliable electricity services for vulnerable communities.
A handout issued by the Ministry of Finance stated that the programme was gender-sensitive as the design envisaged provision of 7% electricity from micro-hydroelectric power plants to women-headed households in K-P.
The project will also ensure that 30% of solar facilities are installed in the girls-designated schools in each province.
The programme includes allocations for providing training to women to enable them to use these electricity instruments.
In K-P and Punjab, energy poverty coincides with economic poverty, especially in rural areas. Almost 70% of the rural population in K-P and more than 65% in Punjab live below the income threshold of $1.25 per day. This ratio is higher on the revised poverty line at $1.90 per day.
Compared to Pakistan’s overall electrification rate of 69%, only 57% of the rural population has access to electricity, according to project documents.