In many remote areas, development arrives at a stage when further progress becomes dependent on larger infrastructure issues, such as roads, telecommunications and electric power. In Uganda, for example, only five percent of the population has access to electricity. Rural electrification and the creation of electricity-generating plants then become vital to progress.
In Uganda, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) has brought together local and international partners to invest in the US$ 770 million Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Project, the country’s fi rst private hydroelectric power project. Earlier, AKFED had set up the West Nile Rural Electrification Company, which supplies electricity to the West Nile region. A 1.5 MW plant, commissioned in September 2004, is being upgraded to double the electricity generating capacity. The 3.5 MW Nyagak plant is to supply renewable energy in an area where over 1.4 million people do not have electricity.
In Pakistan, a prize-winning AKDN programme has introduced micro-hydroelectric plants that generate enough power to light a village or even several communities. Over 180 “micro-hydel” units, supplying electricity to 50 percent of the population of Chitral, Pakistan, have been built. In 2004, the programme won an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in recognition of “outstanding and innovative renewable energy projects”.
In Tajikistan, a US$ 26 million investment by the Tajik Government, AKFED and other international agencies has expanded the capacity of a partially constructed Soviet-era hydroelectric power plant. The plant, Pamir 1, has boosted the supply of hydroelectric energy in eastern Tajikistan, especially during the critical winter months. Similarly, different consortiums of investors led by AKFED have built Kenya’s Tsavo power plant – a reliable energy source in southern Kenya – as well as the US$ 225 million Azito power plant in Côte d’Ivoire.