By Feng Yingqiu
YANGON, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's electricity supply is expected to increase in the next five years as the World Bank (WB) is planning to invest 1 billion U.S. dollars in the country's power sector including electricity generation, transmission and distribution over the period.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told a recent Second Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum held in Nay Pyi Taw that the WB group will support Myanmar in the coming years in the areas of energy, health and agriculture through a multi-year public and private sector investment program of around 2 billion dollars.
He said that Myanmar could increase electricity supply to 50 percent of the population by 2020 with the funding from WB and private sector and will achieve the goal of universal electricity supply by 2030.
He noted that investing in Myanmar's electricity potential will not only improve the lives of its citizens, but will also create a better business environment.
About 70 percent of Myanmar people lack access to electricity.
Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also signed an agreement with Myanmar at the end of January on providing a new loan of 60 million U.S. dollars to help urgrade Myanmar's power distribution network.
Under the agreement, signed between Myanmar's Finance Ministry and the ADB, the new loan will be spent on the installation of new transformer at sub-power stations in power supply system of Yangon, Mandalay, Magway and Sagaing regions, substitution of old power cables with new ones and installation of aerial bundled conductors at power lines.
An ADB expert said that repairing and strengthening existing electricity infrastructure will help reduce system loss.
According to the expert, technical and non-technical loss from Myanmar's aging distribution system before reaching the subscribers were as high as 18.2 percent in 2012 and ADB's loan will fund the rehabilitation work to make the transmission of electricity more efficiently.
The project will cut distribution loss by 4 percent to improve distribution in the four regions and subsequently provide opportunity for large industries and small and medium enterprises to expand their services.
ADB has pledged to assist in Myanmar's infrastructural development in terms of technology, finance, communication and sustainable energy during ADB President Haruhiko Kurodamade's visit to Myanmar in February.
It was surveyed that Myanmar's electrification ratio has gone up, growing from 16 percent in 2006 to 28 percent in 2012 with Yangon city having the highest ratio of 72 percent, followed by Nay Pyi Taw of 65 percent and Mandalay 35 percent.
The survey revealed that only about one in five rural households has access to electricity grid.
In addition to updating Myanmar's electricity transmission and preventing technical loss, ADB is playing a coordination role between Myanmar ministries concerned for the country's energy management, assisting in formulating Myanmar's energy policy, amending the electricity law, designating the national transmission and distribution code and establishing electric equipment standard.
Moreover, a 20-year term energy master plan is being worked out with the help of ADB, which includes promoting off-grid rural energy access and helping the government set up private-public partnership for power system expansion.