IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has launched the first working group for Myanmar’s hydropower sector in collaboration with the private sector, following the launch of a successful group in Lao PDR three years ago.
The Hydropower Developers’ Working Group (HDWG) has been launched exclusively for hydropower companies and industry-related professionals to influence policy and identify solutions to improve upon sustainability and business operations in Myanmar.
Over 100 stakeholders from Myanmar’s hydropower sector including companies, civil society organizations, financial institutions and government officials attended the working group’s first General Forum in Yangon this month. The interim executive committee presented the working group’s agenda focusing on strengthening private sector relations with the government and highlighting the best practices and policies needed to develop projects sustainably. The committee comprises local and international hydropower companies and consultants operating in Myanmar.
“The turn-out…demonstrates the interest and potential for hydropower companies to start working together better to make a change,” said Aung Zaw Naing President of the Hydropower Developers’ Working Group in Myanmar. “Working together as a group is going to help us move further, faster. One company alone cannot change an entire sector, even with the best intentions.”
In Myanmar, 34 million people, or about 66% of its population, do not have access to electricity. To address this constraint, the government aims to achieve universal electricity access by 2030, or 7.2 million new connections. The World Bank Group is supporting this effort through financial assistance to both the public and private sectors to help increase generation capacity, expand the distribution grid, and upgrade power supply facilities in both rural and urban areas.
With support from the Australian government, each country’s HDWG works independently as a platform for industry professionals to discuss pressing issues in their field. The working group in Myanmar will hold annual General Forums for stakeholders to dialogue and to stay informed of sector-wide developments.
Additionally, the working group will hold periodic seminars for relevant stakeholders to present on priority issues including procurement, project documents, environmental and social impacts, licenses and permits among others.
“The HDWG is part of IFC’s effort to help the hydropower sector grow sustainably,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC Country Manager based in Yangon. “Motivating the private sector to be actively involved with policy and environmental and social standard setting will create a more business enabling environment for Myanmar. Sustainable hydropower is going to require all companies to work together, which is what the HDWG is aiming to achieve. It is a unique opportunity for us to sit at the same table and discuss these challenges.”
In 2015, IFC signed an advisory services agreement with the government of Myanmar to develop technical guidelines for addressing the environmental and social risks in hydropower projects. These technical guidelines will be IFC’s first engagement with the government of Myanmar to improve upon their environmental and social risk management in hydropower projects.
* Look out for the September print edition of International Water Power & Dam Construction for an indepth feature on the HDWG in Myanmar.