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China to build $1.5 billion power line across Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan | AFP | 

China’s State Grid Corporation is set to build a $1.5-billion power line across Pakistan to enable the transmission of 4,000 megawatts of electricity from the country’s north to south, the government said Friday.

Pakistani and Chinese officials signed an investment agreement in Beijing on Thursday to build the country’s first high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) line, according to a government statement.

The power transmission line would link the national grid between the southern Pakistani town of Matiari and easternmost city of Lahore, some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) apart.

Pakistan has been struggling to provide enough power to its nearly 200 million citizens for years, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to solve the crisis by 2018.

Sharif inaugurated Pakistan’s fourth nuclear power plant on Wednesday, a joint collaboration with China that adds 340 megawatts to the national grid as part of the government’s efforts to end a growth-sapping energy deficit.

The energy sector has traditionally struggled to cover the cost of producing electricity, leading the government to divert $2 billion annually as a subsidy, according to a recent report commissioned by the British government.

China is ramping up investment in its South Asian neighbour as part of a $46-billion project unveiled last year that will link its far-western Xinjiang region to Pakistan’s Gwadar port with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.

Last week Pakistan’s main bourse announced that a Chinese consortium was set to acquire a 40 percent stake in the stock exchange in a deal estimated at $84 million.

Shanghai Electric announced in August it would buy a majority stake in the utility that supplies energy to Karachi for $1.7 billion, in the country’s biggest ever private-sector acquisition.

 

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