Industrial load shedding causes loss of 400,000 jobs: WB report
By Zeeshan Javaid
ISLAMABAD: Industrial load shedding in Pakistan has resulted in a loss of 400,000 jobs and sector deficit in Pakistan is estimated at about $2 billion a year, compared with $32 billion of investment needs in 2010-20, stated a World Bank (WB) report.
The WB report “More and Better Jobs in South Asia” also contains a special portion on power sector reforms “Options for Reforming the Power Sector in South Asia”, stating that South Asia is characterised by low levels of access, low consumption per capita, and wide demand-supply gaps. Some 600 million people in the region lack access to electricity more than 40 percent of the world total.
Supply has not kept pace with demand, resulting in shortages at peak times ranging from 1 GW (GigaWatt) in Bangladesh (13 percent) to 12 GW (10 percent) in India. The toll on the economy is enormous: in Pakistan the cost of industrial load shedding is 400,000 lost jobs; in India 17 percent of total capacity is based on expensive diesel generation.
In India the combined cash loss of state-owned distribution companies is more than $20 billion a year, compared with $300 billion of investment needs in 2010–15, while the sector deficit in Pakistan is estimated at about $2 billion a year, compared with $32 billion of investment needs in 2010–20.
Countries have responded through massive investment in expanding generation capacity. India added 50 GW of capacity between 2006 and 2011 and initiated a series of “ultra mega” (4 GW) generation projects based on competitive bidding by independent power producers. Bangladesh plans to develop 9.4 GW of new generation capacity by 2015.
All countries of South Asia including Pakistan offer “lifeline” rates to residential consumers to enable the poor to access at least a minimum quantity of electricity as well as nominally priced electricity to agriculture consumers to support irrigation and food security.