Only about 30 percent of Myanmar’s population has reliable access to electricity, with about 70 percent of this being produced by hydropower, considered the cheapest and least- polluting source.
The Government of Myanmar thus plans to build 32 hydropower projects as joint ventures with foreign companies, most of which are Chinese firms, according to a report from the Ministry of Electric Power.
The government has already signed joint venture agreements with foreign companies to build four hydropower projects and memorandum of understanding for another 19, the ministry said, adding that nine other projects were on the table. The joint venture agreements will allow the companies to build and operate power plant for up to 40 years before transferring them to the Union government.
At Myanmar Global Investment Forum, Vikran Kumar, International Finance Corp (IFC)’s resident representative for Myanmar, said “Hydropower sector is more suitable for Myanmar. Organisations such as IFC and the World Bank don’t want to provide technical and financial assistance when power generation methods are not based on clean energy.”
Myanmar has focused on generating electricity through gas- fired power plants, amounting to 20 percent of the total; however a gas-fired power plant needs a natural gas depot, which takes 3-5 years for construction and the investment of over Ks 1 billion.