Energy cooperation in South Asia: prospects and challenges

Energy cooperation in South Asia: prospects and challenges

Treating electricity as a strategic commodity has stalled South Asian energy cooperation

Reliable energy supply is needed to alleviate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth. This paper assesses the barriers to regional energy cooperation in South Asia Growth focusing particularly on Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.

The paper finds that the barriers to stronger regional energy cooperation and trade are economic, political and social in nature. In this respect, the lack of separation of economic and political interests has defined electricity as a strategic commodity, which placed it under the mercy of political instability and party politics.

Nevertheless, the document notes that there have been several international good practices of energy cooperation, particularly in establishing regional power grids. In this sense, the author highlights that once the circumstances of political stability and commitment to cooperation are established, technical and commercial problems can be resolved.

Conclusions are as follows:

  • in order to advance beneficial energy cooperation in the eastern South Asian region, a steady and institutionalised regional communications is required, and the first step would be for countries to strengthen their bilateral ties with India
  • in this context, the present structure of South Asian Association for Regional would be a probable platform for progress
  • through informal channels and regional fora, communication between officials working in the energy sector should be increased in order to heighten the level of trust, in particular at the highest political level
  • at the technical level, utilities, transmission and distribution operators have to sychronise their grids and invest in domestic power generation

Still, the paper indicates that in the present phase, technical problems can indeed be overcome with the tools and measures available in the global market.
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