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Kabul faces power shortage as US aid scaled back
by reposted
Saturday Jul 29th, 2006 9:47 AM
KABUL • Afghanistan’s capital is facing an acute electricity shortage that officials say will only get worse in winter as US financial support for its power-generating plants is being scaled back.
In the heat of summer there are only a few hours of city power each day with most offices and homes relying on fuel-guzzling generators for their electricity needs.

“We don’t have the budget to buy fuel for our generators and our water-run power plants are not fully working due to drought,” energy ministry planning director Gula Jan Khan said this week.

“So we can’t provide the power needed for the capital,” he said, amid increasing anger from a public that expected more development than has been delivered in the five years since the fall of the extremist Taleban regime.

Currently the government can provide only four to five hours of power during the night. “In winter we’ll only be able to provide a few hours every other night,” Khan said.

The US government’s aid arm USAid last year provided $70m for fuel for power generators that mainly serviced the capital.

This year it had only provided 20 million as the government had not issued an emergency call for help, US ambassador Ronald E Neumann said last month.

“There is room here for other donors,” Neumann said, adding the US government wanted to put its attention on development needs in the insurgency-plagued south.

“We felt that we needed to concentrate on things like the project in the south where no other donor will work rather than having our money simply burned in areas where other donors can be asked to help,” he said.