Nepal, Bangladesh energy meeting slated for Nov 15

KATHAMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - Two major agendas are likely to be discussed: energy trading between the two countries and Bangladeshi investment in the Nepali hydropower sector

Nepal has proposed to Bangladesh to hold an energy secretary-level bilateral meeting between the two countries in Kathmandu on November 15 and 16. The Ministry of Energy Water Resources and Irrigation (MEWRI) forwarded the proposal last week to Bangladeshi authorities via the Foreign Ministry to conduct the first meeting of Joint Steering Committee (JSC), co-led by the energy secretary of both countries and Joint Working Group (JWG), co-led by the joint secretary of the Energy Ministry of both the countries.

According to officials at the Energy Ministry, they are yet to receive confirmation from their Bangladeshi counterpart. “Once we hear back from the Bangladeshi authorities, we will finalise the agenda to be discussed in the meeting,” said Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, joint secretary of the MEWRI and co-leader of the JWG.

Sources at the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)—the state-owned power utility which will also participate in the bilateral meeting—told the Post that two major agendas are likely to be discussed: energy trading between the two countries and Bangladeshi investment in the Nepali hydropower sector.

 The NEA is represented by its managing director in the JSC meeting while the chief of power trading department and transmission line directorate is participating in the JWG meeting.   

The NEA is planning to export electricity generated by domestic hydropower projects to Bangladesh using infrastructure located in the Indian territory. Similarly, the Bangladeshi government has been showing interest in investing in hydropower projects in Nepal. There will be further deliberation on these two agendas during the bilateral meeting, according to sources at the NEA.

Both these mechanism were formed by the Ministry last month after signing memorandum of understanding for the energy sector cooperation between the two countries in August in Kathmandu. While signing the understanding, both countries had agreed to form a JWG to achieve energy sector cooperation and a JSC to review the progress of the former and provide required directions. As per the understanding, both the mechanisms have to conduct an annual meeting.   

Bangladesh has repeatedly shown interest in importing power from Nepal via India, and has raised the issue during meetings of the sub-regional BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal) Initiative which was signed by the four countries to facilitate regional trade and business.

Bangladesh has already signed a memorandum of understanding with India’s NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) to import electricity generated by the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project being developed in Nepal with Indian investment. As per the understanding, it will import 300-500 MW of energy from the project. Nepal is also exploring the possibility to tapping foreign direct investment from Bangladesh for the development of hydropower projects in Nepal. Bangladesh has been showing interest in investing in hydropower projects in Nepal for the last couple of years.

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