Afghanistan can get dark as electricity bills remain unpaid | Business and financial news

Neighboring countries supply about 78 percent of Afghanistan’s power, they have not been paid since the Taliban took over.

By Bloomberg

Afghanistan’s state-owned electricity company has appealed to a UN-led mission to provide $ 90 million to settle unpaid bills to Central Asian suppliers before electricity is cut off for the country, as the three-month deadline for payments has expired.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan from mid-August, electricity bills have not been paid to neighboring countries, which supply about 78% of its electricity needs. This poses yet another problem for a new government struggling with a cash squeeze in the economy, in part because of the United States and other allies freezing the country’s overseas reserves.

Afghanistan normally pays between $ 20 and $ 25 million a month in total to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, and now bills of $ 62 million have been paid, Safiullah Ahmadzai, the acting chief executive of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, said on Wednesday. These countries can cut off power supply “any day they want,” he added.

“We have asked UNAMA in Kabul to help the people of Afghanistan pay the country’s electricity suppliers as part of their humanitarian aid,” Ahmadzai said by telephone, referring to the UN aid mission in Afghanistan. He said $ 90 million was requested from the mission, as the unpaid bills will jump to about $ 85 million in a week.

The UN mission has not responded to that request yet, Ahmadzai said.

Currently, there are no significant power outages in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan. Ahmadzai said only 38% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people currently have access to electricity.

The Taliban government is seeking to pay the electricity bills and has urged neighboring countries to avoid interrupting power supplies, Bilal Karimi, a spokesman for the group, said by telephone. “We have a good relationship with them and we do not expect them to stop giving us power,” he added.

When the Taliban swept to power in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the state power company had struggled to charge consumers because of the security situation and the bleak economic conditions.

Power outages are common in Afghanistan, even when the US-backed government was in power. The Taliban has been partly responsible for the situation as it has in recent years attacked transmission towers, causing blackouts in Kabul.

Afghanistan needs about 1,600 megawatts of electricity annually. Ahmadzai said Afghanistan’s domestic power sources, which include hydropower plants, solar panels and fossil fuels, cover about 22% of the country’s needs.

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