Political and Economic Significance of the Rogun HРР for Central Asia

Political and Economic Significance of the Rogun HРР for Central Asia
On September 9, 2019 on Independence Day of Tajikistan, the launch of the second unit of the strategic object of the country, the Rogun Hydropower Plant, (HPP) took place. As about a year ago, on November 16, this grandiose event of special importance, initiated by President Emomali Rahmon, was attended by the country’s hydro-project builders and residents, numerous foreign guests, representatives of international organizations, and journalists of leading news agencies. 
Thanks to the work of the first unit of the Rogun HPP, last and current year residents of Tajikistan were provided with uninterrupted light and heat. Since the commissioning of the second unit, the capacity of the Roghun HPP has increased many times.
Today it has become clear to everyone that the Rogun HPP is not just an energy facility, but is first of all, an engineering feat, a triumph of modern technology, engineering and human labor.
Water is an invaluable wealth of mankind, for its life and well-being. While discussing the problems of water use in the Central Asian region and in the world, as well as the ways of rational use of Tajikistan’s water and energy potential, President Emomali Rahmon has repeatedly stated that the republic will never implement projects to anyone’s detriment, expressing confidence that water issues in Central Asia will find a solution through cooperation and mutual understanding. 
At the highest level, it was repeatedly emphasized that Tajikistan, being a country located in the upper reaches, takes its obligations seriously and neither in the past, nor in the present, (nor in the future), has limited, nor will restrict the flow of water to neighboring countries in the lower reaches of the rivers. 
Water needs in Tajikistan make up 15% of the total runoff of the Amu Darya. In fact, Tajikistan uses only from 10% to 11%, and the same norm will remain even after the completion of the Rogun HPP. Since Tajikistan is a mountainous country, and irrigated areas, due to landscape conditions, are not increasing, Rogun’s waters will be used in hydropower (i.e. water use), and not for irrigation (as water consumption).
The project for the HPP construction was developed in the USSR. Construction began in the late 1970s, but after the collapse of the USSR, work was suspended for a long time - until 2008. The civil war delayed the implementation of the largest project.
The first technical project was approved in 1974, and specialists started the exploration of the area and preparatory work much earlier.
In its initial stage, more than 300 enterprises of the Soviet republics participated in the project. The best engineers, designers and builders from all over the Soviet Union worked at the site of the future Rogun HPP.
After gaining independence, Tajikistan did not leave the power plant project. Active construction continued after the end of the civil war amid economic recovery.
The most powerful HPP in the region will have six units, after full operation it is expected to generate 17 billion kWh per year. According to experts, this will provide inexpensive electricity not only to Tajikistan, but also to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Also, if the HPP’s construction is completed, the large amount generated energy will ultimately be exported, which, according to S&P, can have a significant positive effect on the macroeconomic indicators of the country as a whole. 
After the launch of all six units, the Rogun HPP with a capacity of 3,600 megawatts (over 17 billion kW/h) will become the largest hydropower plant in the Central Asian region. Once completed, the Rogun dam will become the highest in the world, reaching 335 meters. The full project for the construction of six units is planned to be completed by 2024.
The production director at Rogun HPP Anvar Rahmonov told Radio Ozodi that with the launch of two units, the HPP will be able to supply electricity through two 220 kV high-voltage power lines to the country's unified energy network and six 500 kV high-voltage power lines to neighboring countries.
According to him, the extention of four more high-voltage lines for exporting electricity not only to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, but also to Pakistan is in the plans.
Tajikistan currently supplies electricity to neighboring Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in a summer at a price of 40 Tajik dirams (4 cents) per kilowatt. Tajikistan supplied about 1 billion kWh of electricity to Afghanistan in the first half of 2019, and it is expected that by the end of the year deliveries will amount to 1.5 billion kWh. With the launch of the second unit, the generated electricity will be enough for uninterrupted supply of the country's inhabitants.
Tajikistan’s position on water issues, in particular on the Rogun HPP, is unequivocally supported by the European Union, whose representatives have officially confirmed the HPP’s safety, necessity and usefulness, since earlier "Tajikistan was in a state of constant energy crisis." This was materially confirmed by EU investments in the form of a first loan and a grant totaling $21 million for the development of the energy sector. In addition, the deputies of the European Parliament noted that the construction of the Rogun HPP can serve the cause of the fight against international terrorism: “Poverty creates terror and job opportunities for Afghans, Pakistanis, citizens of Central Asian countries, the solution of their economic problems can stop the flow of water into the mill of terrorism, and on this issue, the price of Rogun’s benefits rises tenfold.”
The US Senate also called the Rogun project “timely,” calling for efficient water management in Central Asia.
Since the beginning, the Russian side supports the Rogun HPP project and the resumption of its construction. 
“Russia is interested in projects related to water use in the region close to us, becoming ‘platforms’ for regional cooperation,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich at the initial stage of construction.
The huge importance of the Rogun HPP for the countries of the region was confirmed by the Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan Nurdinjon Ismoilov, who was on an official visit to Dushanbe in those days. He sincerely congratulated President Emomali Rahmon and all the Tajik people on the commissioning the first unit of the Roghun HPP. 
“I admire the successful launch of this grandiose facility, this event will be captured in the recent history of Tajikistan, and the implementation of this project is important not only for the Tajik people, but also for the people of the entire Central Asian region. This unique project was realized thanks to you, Mr. Emomali Rahmon, your determination, firmness and visionary policy,” said Ismoilov.
Many guests expressed their positive attitude toward the construction of the Rogun HPP at the ceremony in honor of the launch of the first unit, including the World Bank (WB) Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Cyril Muller, who made a congratulatory speech. 
“The Rogun HPP will be an important milestone for the energy sector of Tajikistan, as it is able to provide a higher level of well-being and prosperity for the Tajik people,” noted Muller.
“The Rogun HPP can become a source of much-needed, inexpensive, renewable and reliable electricity for the population of Tajikistan. Rogun can also become an important source of electricity export, the income from which will help to finance other important investments in human capital, which in turn will help transform Tajikistan’s economy and lay the foundation for a prosperous future,” said Muller.
Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Manliodi Stefano also praised the work done, assuring that with the launch of the first unit of the Rogun HPP, the country's population will be provided with electricity at all times of the year, and the activity of industrial production enterprises in cities and districts will receive a new impetus, production will increase further capacity of sovereign Tajikistan in the direction of production of competitive and export-oriented products.
The constructed Rogun HPP will not only help meet the country's own energy needs and that of its nine-million population, but will also help export cheap electricity to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China. The completion of the Rogun HPP and, in parallel, other hydropower projects will allow Tajikistan to export electricity in the amount of up to 4,000 MW annually. That is, Rogun’s energy and water will contribute to the progress of not only Tajikistan, but of the entire Central Asian region. In particular, as it was mentioned above, substantial assistance will be provided in the socio-economic, industrial and agricultural revival of Afghanistan - overcoming poverty and improving the living standards of Afghans, as the only alternative in the fight against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking.
Most specialists, experts, economists and politicians are confident in the urgent need of the Rogun HPP. For example, power engineers and water workers in both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are well aware of the importance and benefits of this project. The completion of its construction will bring significant benefits not only to Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, but also to other closest neighbors - Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It will produce cheap electricity, which these countries are ready to buy. 
According to scientists, after the construction of the Rogun dam, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan can annually receive an additional six cubic kilometers of water, which would be enough to develop an additional 300,000 hectares. Such a water volume could help save the drying up Aral Sea and revive its former fishery and transport significance, and most importantly, revitalize the ecological system and, therefore, improve the social and health situation in the region.
WB studies confirm the viability and longevity of the Rogun dam under certain conditions. The proper operation of this hydraulic structure at full capacity is able to maximize benefits for both Tajikistan and the coastal downstream countries. Economic analysis shows that the project is economically viable and highly profitable. The studies show that both Tajikistan and the downstream countries could take advantage of the cooperative regime of operation of the Rogun dam. The total benefits can be increased under different modes of operation, and there are many ways to distribute benefits between sectors and countries. Also, under any operating conditions of the Rogun dam, there are undeniable benefits for riparian countries in terms of developing additional institutional mechanisms, whether it be international legal obligations, financial guarantees, or both.
Rogun HPP will significantly increase Tajikistan's energy security and will contribute to an average generation of about 30% of the electricity needed to meet demand in 2020-2050. Additionally, with the completion of all that is planned for December 2024, the annual production of this HPP will amount to 17.1 billion kW / h. This will fully provide electricity to the whole country, maximizing benefits for both Tajikistan and the coastal downstream countries.
Rogun project helps solve the problem of employment. It has already significantly reduced the unemployment rate and, as a consequence, the poverty level. Over 25,000 builders of various specialties and qualifications work here, 90% of them are Tajik workers. However, construction is truly international. The first unit was launched on time, which confirmed that Tajikistan had found a reliable partner in the person of local and foreign experts. Construction and installation works are carried out with the involvement of 67 organizations and institutions, well-known domestic and foreign contractors, using 3,700 machines and mechanisms. The Moscow Research Institute Hydroproject coordinates the construction. More than 50 Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Chinese German and Iranian companies act as subcontractors. Electrical equipment is manufactured in Russia and Ukraine.
The indisputability of environmental feasibility, technical safety and economic feasibility has been documented by international experts and is certified by the WB. WB's final reports were published on its official website on September 1, 2014, and the Rogun HPP was named as an important milestone for Tajikistan's energy sector.
This is a long-term strategic project for Tajikistan that will serve for the benefit of its and neighboring peoples for about 120 years, producing up to 3600 MW / h of electricity. Additionally, thanks to the Rogun HPP and the reconstruction of Norak HPP, Tajikistan can become a leader in the export of electricity in Asia, expanding the potential and opportunities for exporting surplus electricity in the summer season to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India through the CASA-1000 project, which also involves Kyrgyzstan, and in the future Russia and China may join. In the short term, the Rogun HPP can become the basis for expanding the regional energy market, covering other countries of Central, South and East Asia, promoting cooperation between neighboring countries on water resource management at the level of the entire Amu Darya basin.
This is a significant event for the whole country, not only because one of the world’s largest HPPs is being commissioned. The moral victory is more important here, because the long-term construction, which began in the 1970s, finally achieved its first successful results. 
Rogun HPP is already considered the largest both in the region and the world, the technical characteristics of which are striking in its scope and scale. Its launch is captured in the recent history of Tajikistan, and the final implementation of this project is important not only for the Tajik people, but also for the people of the entire Central Asian region.
Semyon Zolov,
Economic observer of
the public organization
Modern Industry.
Source - CenterAsia

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