Bangladesh is in the throes of a power crisis and during the tenure of the last administration there were a number of incidents of social unrest caused by a shortage of power. Ensuring adequate supply of electricity to households in Bangladesh will become a priority for whichever government assumes power after the next elections.

With the power crisis continuing, the current Bangladesh authorities are toying with the idea of investing in hydro-electricity development in Burma, to import power.

Aware of the power crisis, the Burmese military government has also invited Bangladesh to invest in hydro-electric plants in Burma.

The Myanmar Energy Minister, Brigadier-General Lun Thi, has urged Bangladesh ambassador M. Khairuzzaman during a bilateral meeting in Rangoon earlier this month to set up hydro-electric plants in Burma, a source said.

The Burmese Energy Minister reportedly told the Bangladesh ambassador that there is a great opportunity for this in the Southeast Asian nation.

According to Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power, there are more than 200 potential hydropower sites throughout the country, with a probable installed capacity of 38,000 MW. Over 37 percent of the 1,200 megawatt plus power in Myanmar is generated by water.
A senior Bangladesh Power Division official on Thursday said that they were closely examining the potential for investment in the power sector in Burma and possible ways of brining in power to Bangladesh.

“If we find it feasible, we can easily invest there and import power to meet our domestic electricity demand. As the country’s main source of power is natural gas, which is declining gradually, we are now trying to find out alternative sources,” he stated.

He added that either the government or the private sector could invest in the ASEAN country.

The official further said that as per the Burmese government’s rules and regulations, Bangladesh would have to supply 30 percent of the total generated power to domestic consumers in Burma, and the remaining 70 percent could be brought into the country along a cross-border transmission line.

Thailand has already invested in hydro-electric development in Burma, as there are plenty of water sources in the country.

A source said that in Buthidaung Township, Arakan State, exists one of the larger waterfalls in Southeast Asia, known as Saidin, on which the military government was arranging to set up hydro-electric plants. The government withdrew plans for the project a few years later due to lack of foreign investment.