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FEATURE STORY

Bringing more electricity for the people of Myanmar

September 24, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In Myanmar, over 70 percent of the people have no access to electricity.
  • Electricity can empower people to expand businesses and create jobs, enable children to study at night, and clinics to refrigerate medicine.
  • As a first step, the World Bank is supporting a modern power plant in Mon State that will produce 250% more electricity for the same amount of gas.

Yangon, September 24, 2013 – As Myanmar pursues reforms to accelerate poverty reduction and build shared prosperity, turning on the lights is an urgent priority for the people, and the World Bank is working with the government and other partners to help bring electricity to the people of Myanmar.

Electricity has the potential to touch every aspect of people’s lives, empowering them to take development into their own hands – enabling businesses to expand and create jobs, and children to study at night to prepare for a brighter future.

For businesses, electricity is critical. Tun tun Oo, manager of Thazin Printing and Document Company in Yangon, says he could increase income if they had a reliable supply of electricity. “When there is no electricity we use generators, but with generators, we can’t run all the machines, and the cost increases because we need to pay for fuel.”

U Pe Aung, Assistant General Manager for all water bottle factories under the Peace Myanmar Group, says he could do more business and hire people if he had more electricity. “I cannot increase our workforce, because the business cannot expand. They’re directly related. The main problem we are facing in these industrial zones is electricity.”

 “The problem is that if we do not address the electricity problem first, the most basic obstacle, no matter how many telephone lines or internet connections or computers there are, you can’t continue without electricity,” explains Nay Phone Latt, Executive Director of Myanmar ICT for Development Organization.

He is also concerned about the future generation. “Information technology like the computer and internet will be tools for education, so children should be familiar with computers.”

Electricity would enable children to study at night to prepare for their future, instead of relying on kerosene lamps or candles. “I want my students to be educated so they have more opportunities,” says Daw Myat Marlar, a teacher at Lain Min primary school in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta region. “And life isn’t as hard for them as it is now.” 

Open Quotes

The problem is that if we do not address the electricity problem first, the most basic obstacle, no matter how many telephone lines or internet connections or computers there are, you can’t continue without electricity. Close Quotes

Nay Phone Latt
Executive Director, of Myanmar ICT for Development Organization

For Lwan Wai, a doctor who has been working in the Delta region for nearly 20 years, electricity is as important as the life he treats. “I travel around to treat poor people and run a clinic as well. Because we can’t store certain medical supplies due to the lack of electricity there is no possibility for treatment, and people have to go to Yangon unnecessarily,” says Lawn Wai. “People have to pay for travel and there is a risk of death on the way.”

Currently, more than a quarter of Myanmar’s people live below the poverty line, and over 70 percent of the people do not have access to electricity. In rural areas, where the majority of the poor live, only 16 percent of households have access to grid-based electricity.

As a first step to expand electricity for the people of Myanmar, the Bank will provide a $140 million interest-free credit to support installation of a modern, high efficiency power plant at Thaton Gas Turbine Station in Mon State. By replacing existing gas turbines with advanced combined cycle gas turbine technology, the plant will be able to provide 250 percent more electricity with the same amount of gas, reducing noise and improving the plant’s health and safety standards.

The new 106 MW plant will provide electricity to both the national and local grids – covering 5 percent of peak demand in Myanmar and 50 percent of peak demand in Mon State. This will benefit local residents and businesses by making electricity supply more reliable.

Under this project, the Bank will also support technical assistance to help Myanmar prepare for longer-term development of the electric power sector.