To Electrify Myanmar, Build The Grid From The Outside In
By Deepali Khanna
Kin Cho has been selling bottled petrol to passing motorists in central Myanmar for over a decade. Each liter costs roughly $1, and she sells about four on a good day. Now that her village is hooked up to reliable electricity, she bought an electric fuel dispenser. She now makes $20 a day from petrol sales, with more time to tend to the rest of her business, and is thinking about expanding her teashop.
Kin Cho is one of 22 million people in Myanmar who, through energy access, are now connected to the modern economy. Her village, Than Pyar Chaung, was connected to a grid for the very first time in October 2018. It is solar-powered. But about 58% of the population still rely on diesel generators, car batteries, kerosene and even candles for lighting. Even in the commercial capital of Yangon, blackouts are not only common as the city rations its limited energy supply, they’ve been getting longer with up to four hours of power cuts per day.
Myanmar faces an uphill battle to achieve universal electrification. And with the lowest GDP per capita in the region, the need to unleash the transformative power of reliable and sufficient energy for all becomes all the more urgent.
Photo courtesy of Soneva Foundation.