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Article: The Electrification of Myanmar
March 20, 2018 - 13:45
ISDP | Focus Asia no. 9 | September 2014
By Thurain Win – Research Fellow at MDRI-CSIS
Myanmar has the lowest electrification rate among the ASEAN countries. Upgrading its electricity infrastructure and updating legislation governing the electricity sector is central to Myanmar’s economic development and for alleviating rural poverty. In particular, Myanmar is seeking to utilize its rich hydropower resources, which have been estimated at over 100,000 MW. In this paper the author provides an overview of Myanmar’s electricity sector and power generation potential in addition to outlining some of the challenges the country faces.
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• Myanmar has the lowest electrification rate (26%) among the countries of ASEAN. Increasing power generation is central to Myanmar’s economic development and to alleviate rural poverty.
• The existing national electrical power grid is mainly confined to the central basin of the country with the south and north of the country in particular not connected to the grid.
• Myanmar has rich energy potential. Of particular significance are its hydropower resources which are estimated at over 100,000 MW, of which less than 10 percent is currently being harnessed.
• The Myanmar Electrical Power Enterprise has identified more than 200 locations suitable for hydropower development. Kachin State in the north of the country is site of the largest potential with nearly 19,000 MW. However, dams could also incite tensions with ethnic minorities if not sustainably implemented.
• Modernizing Myanmar’s electricity sector is impeded by a legacy of bureaucracy, a lack of proper guidelines and frameworks, and a scarcity of qualified personnel. These are in urgent need of addressing if Myanmar is to effectively harness its power generation potential.
Thurain Win is a former guest researcher at ISDP and Research Fellow at MDRI-CSIS
The opinions expressed in this Focus Asia paper are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute for Security and Development Policy or its sponsors.
© The Institute for Security and Development Policy, 2014.