Connecting regions: Pakistan, Tajikistan study fibre optic cable link


DUSHANBE: The Central Asia-South Asia 1,000-megawatt (Casa-1,000) power supply project is expected to pave the way for connecting the two regions digitally as they are deliberating on a proposal to lay a fibre optic cable along with the electricity transmission line.

“Casa-1,000 power project has cleared the way for us to connect the regions through a cable network called Digital Casa-I, which will link Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Tajikistan Deputy Energy Minister Jamshed Shoimzoda told media during a briefing.

Under this project, a fibre cable will be laid along with the power transmission line between the two regions.

“We are forging links to cooperate with Pakistan and the World Bank is also discussing the Digital Casa-I project with us to exchange information,” he said.

The existing cable takes a long route to reach Pakistan. It first goes to Russia, extends to Europe and then comes to Pakistan. “The new project will provide a good route to connect the two regions,” he said.

The deputy energy minister emphasised that Tajikistan had a huge potential to produce electricity as its energy sector had attracted significant investment amounting to  $2 billion.

The central Asian state has so far completed 16 large and medium-sized projects in the areas of energy production, transmission and improved service delivery.

Turning to Casa-1,000 power supply scheme, the deputy minister said it was at the initial stage and Tajikistan was keenly focusing on the sustainable energy market of South Asia, especially Pakistan, where demand was quite high.

Calling Casa-1,000 a capacity-building project, he stressed that it would pave the way for laying a transmission line to supply additional electricity to Pakistan through Chitral. “This project will give knowledge about Pakistan’s market, its legal and policy requirements as well as energy regulations.”

With an installed capacity of 5,475 megawatts, Tajikistan will utilise the existing capacity to export electricity under the Casa project.

“We want to work with Pakistan and Afghanistan; Casa provides a good opportunity to connect the regions and will help boost bilateral relations,” he said.

Security fears

“We have a two-way programme that covers the technical approach and security matters; the question is how we can build and maintain the transmission line; we are considering different routes at this stage.”

Afghanistan will receive a transit fee for the power transmission line that will pass through its territory and will spend the money on the welfare of local communities.

The deputy minister recalled that in the Soviet era, there were two transmission lines, but no security problem arose at that time.

Responding to a question, he said Kabul had given sovereign guarantees for protecting the transmission line and technical teams were discussing all other routes including the Wakhan corridor.

“We are floating a tender for building the power transmission line from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan and energy supply will start in the middle of 2018,” he announced.

The Casa project is governed by open access rules that will allow other countries to supply electricity during the non-supply period.

Industrial ties

The deputy energy minister said Pakistan and Tajikistan were not far from each other and they could develop relations in the areas of tourism and industry. Tajikistan is already importing some products from Pakistan, which in turn is increasing its industrial capacity.

In reply to a question about joining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said, “We have good relations with the Chinese and we want to be part of the One Road One Belt initiative as it will enhance trade and cultural ties due to road connectivity.”

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