EDITORIAL: Energy cooperation

The legal framework will enable the sub-regional nations to exchange the surplus energy among one another whenever they need it

Legal and regulatory framework is needed to harness abundant water resources and other forms of clean and renewable energy — solar and wind — in the South Asia region. Nepal’s hydroelectricity and clean alternative energy can be reliable and affordable sources of energy to the energy-starved South Asian nations. For this, the sub-regional groups — Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan — can reach an agreement on grid connection and interconnection through the formulation of legal and regulatory framework to cooperate with each another. Energy experts have stressed the need to reach bilateral, trilateral and multilateral agreements on grid connection so that the energy generated in one country can be supplied to another at a price agreed upon among the nations involved. Nepal and India have already reached such an agreement and, India and Bangladesh and India and Bhutan have also reached bilateral deals to exchange electricity at mutually agreed upon prices. Taking part in Nepal Power Investment Summit organised by the Energy Development Council (EDC), Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri highlighted the trade deal in energy between Nepal and India in 2014. Others shed light on the importance of sharing energy among the member nations to give a boost to their economies. Since 2014, Nepal has been purchasing energy up to 400-MW.

Puri also said India aims to increase the share of the manufacturing sector up to 25 per cent in its GDP by 2025. For this, India needs a huge amount of electricity to achieve the target. India has made investment in two biggest ever hydel projects in Nepal — 900-MW Arun III and 900-MW Upper Karnali — and Bangladesh has also shown keen interest in making investment in the hydropower sector. Bangladeshi Ambassador to Nepal Mashree Binte Shams stressed the need to develop legal and regulatory provisions for sub-regional cooperation in energy trade. She said Bangladeshi investors will invest in Nepal’s hydropower provided that the three counties reach a trilateral agreement on grid connection and energy trade. If sub-regional cooperation is materialized, Nepal can also generate 40,000-MW of energy in the same period, according to Sujit Acharya, EDC chairperson.

Baikuntha Aryal, secretary at the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission, however, drew India’s attention to “Guidelines on cross border trade of electricity” issued by India in December 2016. Aryal said the guidelines hinder the prospects of power exchange among the sub-regional member nations. The guidelines state that India will purchase energy from Nepal, produced by NEA or government-funded projects and Indian-funded projects in Nepal. It hampers the prospects of regional cooperation in the energy sector. If mutually agreed upon legal and regulatory framework is reached among the member nations on the trade of energy, the energy hungry sub-region will greatly benefit from Nepal’s immense potential of water resource and other renewable sources of energy. The legal framework will enable the sub-regional nations to exchange the surplus energy among one another whenever they need it.

Technical education

The Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) has said it is planning to open training institutions in all seven provinces.

According to the CTEVT, such training institutions in the provinces will function under the name of Model Technical College. The plan to open such institutions in all provinces is in line with the new federal set-up the country has recently adopted under the new constitution.

CTEVT plans to run all its programmes at these colleges in all provinces, thereby making technical education and vocational training accessible to all aspirants.

Constituted in 1989, the CTEVT aims to produce technical and skilled human resources. However, the CTEVT has been many a time criticised for politicisation and its failure to properly carry out its responsibilities. Some even argue that the CTEVT requires major reforms. The CTEVT’s contribution, nonetheless, in producing technical and skilled human resources cannot be ignored. If it introduces programmes with focus on youths, it can play a crucial role in training and providing employment to those from the underprivileged groups.