WASHHINGTON: President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai here Saturday held a joint meeting with the President of World Bank Group and pledged to improve regional economic cooperation. It was agreed that the two countries will facilitate electricity trade between the Central and South Asia. They viewed the development of CASAREM and its first project, the CASA 1000 project as central to the facilitation of regional electricity trade. As a first step in the development of CASAREM, the CASA 1000 Project will allow the export of existing surplus hydropower from Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to South Asia during the summer months.
The two Presidents noted that, together with the government of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, functioning Inter-governmental Council has been established in 2007 and Secretariat in 2008 with the objective of developing CASAREM and the CASA 1000 Project. They further noted that the four governments signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in August 2008 that expresses their mutual commitments to CASAREM and CASA 1000.
In recognition that the development of a regional electricity market would be beneficial to them and to the region as a whole, the two Presidents agreed to continue to strengthen their bilateral cooperation with Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic in the development of both CASAREM and its first project, CASA 1000.
In this connection, it was agreed that they would instruct their representatives to take further steps that may be necessary to ensure the effectiveness and enforceability of the IGA and will endeavor to complete all actions pertaining thereto on an urgent basis.
It includes determining economic viability of the project and tariff estimation and signing of the Joint Development Agreement (JDA), preferably during the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECC-A) to be held in Islamabad on May 13-14. This will facilitate the further development of the various commercial agreements and the selection and contracting party on international competitive bidding basis.
The two Presidents noted their appreciations for the technical assistance being provided by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) through IFC Infra Ventures, Islamic Development Bank, and Asian Development Band and support of the United States for the development of CASAREM and CASA 1000 Project. They affirmed their intent to seek financing from these international finance institutions for the CASA1000 project.
The two Presidents recognized that the completion of CASA 1000 “which is being designed to accommodate an expanded volume of power in the future “ will catalyze additional energy investments and trade both in the four CASA countries as well as the region and that it could have a positive demonstration effect for other regional infrastructure projects between their two countries, such as the up-gradation of Peshawar-Kabul road and the Peshawar-Kabul Rail link.-APP