Bangladesh Announces 100% Electricity Coverage After Inaugurating China-Backed Coal Fired Plant

© AFP 2023 / -In this photograph taken on on January 19, 2020, the Payra Power Plant is seen near Patuakhali.
In this photograph taken on on January 19, 2020, the Payra Power Plant is seen near Patuakhali. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.03.2022
Economic and political ties between China and Bangladesh have grown steadily over the past decade or so. Last year, Chinese telecom giant Huawei rolled out the country’s first 5G network. In another sign of China’s growing involvement in the south Asian country, Beijing has also built seven friendship bridges in Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday declared that the entire country now has access to electricity as she inaugurated the country’s biggest power plant, which was built with assistance from Beijing.
The 1,320 megawatt (MW) Payra thermal plant is located in the Patuakhali District near the southern coastline.
The coal-fired plant was developed by Bangladesh-China Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BCPCL), a joint venture between the domestic North-West Power Generation Company Limited (NWPGCL) and China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC).
The state-owned China Export Import (CEXIM) Bank majorly financed the project through a $1.98 billion loan, with the overall cost of the project being $2.4 billion.
As per the BCPCL’s website, the thermal plant has "Ultra Supercritical Technology", which would allow it to produce the targeted power generation while burning less coal than a conventional thermal plant. Only a dozen similar thermal plants exist in the world.
The joint agreement for the project was signed by Prime Minister Hasina and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the former’s visit to Beijing in 2014.
Reports in local media underlined that Bangladesh is now ranked above its larger South Asian neighbour India in terms of electricity coverage. The feat was lauded by Hasina in the speech she gave on the “success of full electricity” coverage at the inauguration event.
Nearly 96.7 percent of Indian households have access to electricity, as per a survey carried out in 2020.
People gather to pay their respects at the 1971 independence war's martyrs national memorial to celebrate the 50th Victory Day, which marks the end of a bitter nine-month war of independence from Pakistan, in Savar on December 16, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
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The inauguration of the Payra plant comes a day after Foreign Office consultations between US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Bangladesh's Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen in Dhaka.
According to an official communique from Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Nuland “discussed possible implications of dependence on a particular country for development project financing" with Momen, a possible reference to growing ties between Dhaka and Beijing in recent years.

“Foreign Minister Momen stated that Bangladesh receives most of its project financing from multilateral financial institutions and also from Japan; and intends to diversify project financing. He also stated that the people, due to the economic progress, seek large projects to ease their lives”, the official statement stated.

While the US has historically been the largest foreign investor in Bangladesh since the country’s independence in 1971, commercial ties between Beijing and Dhaka have been fast catching up since it signed on to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2016.
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