An €86.41 million ($92 million) project to build electricity transmission lines and distribution networks in three provinces and improve energy supply for the region’s rural population has been officially inaugurated.
Financing for the construction of the two projects came from a mix of French, EU and state-owned Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) loans and grants.
Cambodia received a €70 million concessional loan from France, a €1 million grant from the EU – through the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) – for capacity building among EdC employees, and a €15.41 million counterpart fund from the state-owned enterprise.
At the inauguration ceremony for the substations in Kampong Cham, Kratie and Koh Kong provinces on May 10, Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said that the substations and distribution networks would increase the reach and distribution of electricity in the “western and southern regions of Cambodia”, such that it would turn into a “cluster network” that strengthens the delivery of high quality, stable and sustainable electricity across the country.
“The project will strengthen the supply of electricity to remote areas in Koh Kong, Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces, bringing the supply source closer to the people,” Sem said.
It would also promote the development of industry, trade and tourism in areas within the National Road 4 coastal corridor from the Sre Ambel roundabout, in the namesake district of Koh Kong, to Khemarak Phoumin town, he said.
The loan agreement and grant assistance was signed at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in Paris in October 2015 by Prime Minister Hun Sen and France’s then-foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, Sem added.
French ambassador to Cambodia Jacques Pellet said that France was proud to play a part in the transmission and distribution project, calling it an “important” way to improve the energy supply to meet the needs of these provinces, which have less comprehensive access to electricity than Cambodia’s urban centres.
“This project demonstrates the long-term good relationship that the Ministry of Mines and Energy and state-owned utility company EdC has and will have in the coming years, to support Cambodia’s electricity grid strategy for development, and strengthen the electricity network to enhance its capacity to serve the interests of the Cambodian people,” he said.
Kampong Cham provincial governor Un Chanda said that the province has had a steady supply of electricity thus far, with residents not reporting any shortages.
However, he welcomed the new distribution system as a means to boost industry in the region. “Although Kampong Cham does not currently need more electricity, I believe that in the future, the newly inaugurated distribution networks will greatly help to supply the factories and industries,” he said.
The energy minister said the new networks will contribute to expanding access to hydropower plants in Cambodia’s western provinces.
Koh Kong and Pursat provinces are home to a number of hydropower plants, including Tatai Hydropower and Russey Chrum Krom, which produce more than 700MW, with several smaller plants currently being constructed.