Summer is supposed to be the one season when people in Kyrgyzstan can forget about electricity shortages. But this year, it seems, summer will bring no respite, as the government has announced it will import electricity from Tajikistan.
A water shortage is behind the summer deficit; some experts attribute it to climate change. By importing electricity now, authorities hope to keep reservoirs well stocked for the upcoming winter, when electricity demand triples. The May announcement to import up to 500 million kWh in the summer underscores the fragility of a system that has seen little meaningful reform and little investment, despite constant promises of both in recent years.
Demand for electricity is growing by 4 percent annually, while private citizens consume 67 percent of the total, says Nurzat Abdyrasulova, director of UNISON, an energy-transparency watchdog. “There’s very little left for industrial use,” Abdyrasulova told EurasiaNet.org, describing the negative impact that shortage has on economic growth.
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Asel Kalybekova is a Bishkek-based journalist.