The World Bank yesterday lent Bangladesh $600 million to help the country construct new power lines and substations, and upgrade existing lines, in an effort to ensure reliable power for 25 million rural consumers.
Christine E Kimes, acting head of World Bank Bangladesh, and Mohammad Mejbahuddin, secretary of Economic Relations Division, signed a loan agreement at the latter's office in Dhaka yesterday.
Credit for the Rural Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project will come from the International Development Association, the lender's soft loan arm.
The 40-year credit facility will come at an interest rate of 0.75 percent with a 10-year grace period.
The project will aim to reduce system losses and enhance the capacity of the rural electricity network in the Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions.
“Only 42 percent of the rural population currently has access to electricity in Bangladesh, leaving about 13 million rural households without electricity,” Kimes said in a statement.
The project will reduce technical losses in the rural grid electricity system, improving the quality of supply for 25 million people in rural Bangladesh.
The WB also said it would contribute to increasing the capacity of the transmission and rural distribution system to supply and distribute additional power to rural consumers as additional generation becomes available.
Mejbahuddin welcomed the project, saying it would strengthen the rural network and improve efficiency of the power system.
The rural electrification programme of Bangladesh is recognised globally as one of the most successful programmes in the world. However, over the years, the transmission and distribution network has become overstretched.
This project will provide support to upgrade the network as well as strengthen the institutional capacity of rural electricity service delivery. State-run Rural Electrification Board and the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh will implement the project.