Saturday, June 15, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh looks to Nepal for clean power to keep Paris promise

  • ‘Nepal can be the most valuable country for us’
  • ‘We want a transmission line directly from Nepal through India’
  • Government ready to invest in a joint venture transmission line, says Nasrul
Update : 30 Mar 2024, 10:21 PM

Bangladesh is looking to Nepal for hydro-electricity to keep the Paris climate promise of having at least 40% clean power by 2041, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has said.

“Nepal can be the most valuable country for us,” he said, noting that Nepal has the potential of having more than 40,000 megawatts of hydro-power, and Bangladesh with its huge population density and wetlands finds it “challenging” to have bigger solar energy as a means of clean power.

The state minister was speaking at a seminar at the embassy of Nepal in Dhaka on Saturday, ahead of the Nepal Investment Summit 2024 to be held in Kathmandu on April 28-29.

Nepalese Ambassador in Dhaka Ghanshyam Bhandari and officials of the Nepal Investment Board spoke about the summit. 

Members of Parliament Aroma Dutta and Kazi Nabil Ahmed were also present.

The Nepalese side invited Bangladeshi businesses to leverage the country's strategic location between China and India, despite Bangladesh offering various incentives to attract foreign investors.

The ambassador said increasing economic and commercial ties between the two countries, and joint venture projects have grown in recent times. 

He said Nepal's immense hydropower potential presents significant opportunities in addressing Bangladesh's growing energy needs.

“We are on the verge of materializing the first-ever power transaction between Nepal and Bangladesh with the initial transaction of up to 40 megawatts,” he said.

“Negotiations are also underway on a joint investment in the 683 megawatt Sunkosi third hydropower project and on the purchase of 500 megawatt of electricity from the upper Karnali hydropower project as agreed by Bangladesh and GMR Company of India.”

The state minister, however, lamented the slow process of the GMR.

Nasrul Hamid said: “We have started bringing power from India. 2,650 megawatt power has already been added from different sources – some hydro, some different fossil fuels.”

“But the target is to fulfill 40% clean energy in the future. Clean energy means renewable energy, but we also expect clean energy from nuclear power. Nuclear power will be added within next year,” he said.

“Nepal has more potential for us. It’s very near, less than 50 kilometers. We want a transmission line directly from Nepal through India to Bangladesh. That is what we wanted to do. We have had several meetings with India. And of course we have put ideas there. And they also mostly agreed on them at the meetings.”

“But we have to give them a push to go ahead. We have done a lot of meetings, we have done them together with Nepal. Now is the time for action. We want to see something happening this year,” he said.

“This tenure of our government is very serious about the environment issues,” he said, about the promise Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made to the Paris climate accord.

The state minister said the government is also ready to invest in a joint venture transmission line.

Using the joint venture transmission line, he said, Bangladesh can export power to Nepal in the winter season because rivers dry up in Nepal during winter.

“We have been mentioning that for a couple of years but now we have taken it seriously in order to go forward,” he said.

Beyond hydropower, the Nepalese ambassador, however, said Nepal presents “a wealth of investment opportunities for our friends from Bangladesh in sectors such as infrastructure development, hotel and hospitality, pharmaceuticals, information and communication technology, among others.”

“As an embassy, we stand as always ready to facilitate interested Bangladeshi investors by addressing their questions, concerns and of course, providing them with the necessary information,” he said.

The ambassador said the third edition of the Nepal Investment Summit will be bringing together global investors, policy makers, experts and development partners and institutions, among others.

The objectives of the summit are to help potential investors witness Nepal's phenomenal transformation as an attractive investment destination, facilitate connection with local partners, help them discover investment opportunities in Nepal and help them secure synergetic partnership, he said.

But the ultimate goal is to ensure bridging resources and technology gap for Nepal's economic development, he said.

As a country of 30 million people, Nepal is a sizable domestic market with 57% of its working age population and low cost of labour. 

Situated strategically between two economic superpowers, India and China, Nepal is a gateway to a duty free market access to the markets of a population of about three billion, said the ambassador.

Nepal enjoys preferential trading arrangements with a number of developing and developed countries and markets, including the USA and the EU. 

"We have made a number of policies, legal, institutional and procedural reforms, including the enactment of the new Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer act," he said.

"The act guarantees national treatment of foreign investment and ensures repatriation of returns. We offer attractive tax incentives, export structures along with simplified procedures for land acquisition, company registration and infrastructure development," said the ambassador.

Kazi Nabil Ahmed MP lauded the initiative of Nepal, and said: “As a member of Saarc, we want to see this region have foreign direct investments (FDIs).”

“When a Saarc member country gets FDI, all the countries benefit because the region becomes important to all the investors of developed countries,” he said, adding that Bangladesh is also trying out different things to attract FDIs.”

For sustainable energy, he said Nepal has the resources that are limitless for all the countries of South Asia.

He asked the Nepal embassy and the investment board to share real time information to all possible investors from Bangladesh who might have questions different from others.

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