ADB to develop solar energy for Afghanistan

Manila, January 19, 2005 - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday it had approved a 750,000-dollar grant to develop solar energy technology for use in isolated rural areas in Afghanistan.

The grant, financed by the British government, would demonstrate how solar energy could enhance the quality of life in poor, remote villages which could not be connected to wider power grids.

Most of Afghanistan's population have no access to modern energy sources like electricity and gas and are forced to rely on traditional fuels like firewood. This depletes the country's forests, damaging the environment, the ADB said. However, the country has a great potential for solar power since the sun shines for about 300 days a year in Afghanistan, it said.

The grant would be used to provide solar systems to communities on a pilot basis and to train 10 people from different ethnic groups as solar technicians at a training centre in India.

Upon returning to Afghanistan, they would train 10 additional people from their communities.

It was hoped that solar energy systems in Afghanistan could be used to provide lighting for literacy programs, provide water for clinics and to power water pumps and irrigation systems, the bank added.