Posted by: uss017 | December 13, 2007

Electricity Problem: an exposition


Besides the “wheat attack,” another popular polemic circulating around these days against the government is the so-called “electricity problem.” This problem is also cited as an example of the “failure” of the Musharraf government. However, an honest and sober reflection on the issue will show that the past governments (of Bhutto and Sharif) ignored investing in the energy sector and failed to improve the existing systems. Thus, the Musharraf government simply inherited a system which was largely ignored and mismanaged in the past. Moreover, the ones blaming the current government ignore the immense work which has been carried out to sort the issue over the past 7-8 years and also fail to take into account the unexpectedly immense economic growth witnessed by Pakistan recently which inevitably resulted in much higher energy requirements.

This paper briefly lists the performance of the previous inept and corrupt governments, explains the nature of the problem and its underlying cause, and, finally, lists the steps undertaken by the government to deal with the issue as well as the projects soon to be launched.


Electricity Problem

Musharraf Supporters Team

Failure of past governments

The corrupt governments of PML-N and PPP, which still consider themselves to be vital for democratic dialogue within the provinces, failed to create dialogue within the provinces on the most important issue facing Pakistan’s (water & energy) survival – Kalabagh Dam. Their governments failed to plan for the future growth and energy requirements of Pakistan.

Unexpected Economic Boom & Energy Requirement in this Era

Pakistan’s $75 billion economy boomed into a $160 billion economy, with the consumption of gas, electricity and coal increasing yearly to an average rate of 7.8 percent, 5.1 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.

The number of electricity consumers grew from 15.9 million in 2005-06 to 16.7 million in 2007, showing a growth of about 70 percent over the last 10 years.

The major energy consumption sectors of the country are: Industrial (38.3 percent), Transport (32.8 percent), Residential and Commercial (25 percent), Agriculture (2.5 percent) and others (2.2 percent).

As regards electricity, the household sector has been the largest consumer over the last 10 years, on average consuming 44.8 percent, followed by the industrial sector (29.4 percent), agriculture (12.2 percent), commercial sector (5.9 percent) and street lights (10.6 percent). Source.

Record Sales of Electronic Items

Recently, we received good news from Pakistan Haier. In May, Pakistan Haier achieved RECORD air-conditioner and refrigerator monthly output. The sale volume reached all time high, the year-on-year sale increase of air-conditioner, refrigerator, washing machine, micro wave and TV are 136%, 58%, 180%, 210% and 106% respectively. Source.

Projects executed under this government

The first unit of 290-megawatt of Ghazi Brotha Hydel Project (GBHP) went into operation in June 2003, and contributed around 50mw of electricity to the national grid. Four more units would be added every quarter, and within a year the GBHP would be contributing 1,450 mw.

Nuclear power plant Chashma-2, which came on-line in 2007, has added another 300MW to the national grid.

Current Concrete steps being taken by the Government

Pakistan is seeking to explore alternative sources of energy production and the use of wind and solar technologies with the aim to produce 9,700 MW wind power by 2030, thereby providing electricity to 7,874 off-grid villages in Sindh and Baluchistan.

The government is giving top priority to Hydel power with the potential of producing 40,000 MW power of which only 15 percent has been exploited so far. Source.

In 2001, the Water and Power Development Authority of Pakistan identified 22 sites for launching Hydropower projects to meet the ever-increasing demand for cheap power. It indicated that about 15,074 megawatts could be generated on the completion of these projects, which would also meet the water irrigation requirements for the growing agriculture sector. Source.

The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) has informed the government that sugar mills can produce 2,000MW of electricity in the next five years.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has decided to establish an Engineering Design Organization (EDO) for the indigenous development of nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the country. The PAEC informed authorities that it was planning to add about 1,260MW through Hydel power, 880MW from Alternate energy, 4,860MW from Gas, 900MW from Coal and 160MW from Oil by 2010. Source.

The Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) is investing in a new 220-megawatt power plant that will help control the power shortages in the city. The plant will start generating 192MW by March and the remaining 28MW will be distributed by December 2008. Source.

The government has decided to develop the Thar coal for power generation on a priority basis to overcome energy crisis following:

  • Confirmed estimates that its reserves were equivalent to at least 850 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) of gas — about 30 times higher than Pakistan’s proven gas reserves of 28 TCF.
  • By using only 2% of the existing coal reserves, we can generate around 20,000 MW (20 GW) for almost 40 years
  • These estimates were confirmed by separate bankable feasibility studies conducted by Chinese and Russian experts.
  • 185 Billion Tons of coal deposits in Pakistan were second only to 247 Billion Ton reserves in the United States and much higher than 157 and 115 Billion Ton reserves of Russia and China, respectively.
  • Thar coal reserves were equivalent to at least 400 Billion Barrels of oil — equivalent to oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran put together. One estimate puts Pakistan’s coal energy at 576 Billion Barrels of oil which is equivalent to the combined oil reserves of the 3 largest producers. (See this. The recent government has initiated the process).

Ongoing Power Projects

The Ongoing Power Projects for which allocations have been made in 2007-08 Budget are: Mangla Dam Raising Project (Rs 20 billion), Mirani Dam (Rs 500 million), Sabakzai Dam (Rs 200 million), Kurram Tangi Dam (Rs 2.84 billion), Sadpara Multipurpose Dam Rs (900 million), Gomal Zam Dam (Rs 1.8 billion), the Greater Thal Canal Phase I (Rs 8.5 billion), the Greater Thal Canal Phase II (Rs 2.5 billion), Katchi Canal Phase I (Rs 8.50 billion), Rainee Canal Phase II (Rs 2.50 billion), Lower Indus Right Bank Irrigation and Drainage, Sindh, (Rs 1.9 billion), Balochistan Effluent Disposal into RECD (RECD-III) (Rs 800 million), construction of 20 small dams in NWFP (Rs 870 million), Bhasha/ Diamer Dam (Rs 500 million), Khan-Khawar hydro project (Rs 1.3 billion), Dubir Khawar hydro project (Rs 2.1 billion), transmission arrangements for power dispersal of Ghazi Barotha (Rs 1.67 billion) and Neelam-Jhelum hydro project (Rs 10 billion).

New projects for the next fiscal year include the Sukkur Barrage Rehabilitation and Improvement project (Rs 100 million), Akhori Dam PC I (Rs 200 million), construction of Jaban Hydroelectric Power Station and Jaban Hydroelectric Power Station (Rs 40 million). Source.


© Musharraf Supporters 2008 All rights reserved



  1. Interesting. I’m glad you addressed this topic as I’ve been wondering about it. I saw the boom in the commercial and residential sector having a key role, but I’m more curious why these people are continually issued licenses to build and expand when the electricity to support it just isn’t there. Not only the electricity, but any gas which may be used for people’s heat, hot water, etc. Why doesn’t someone put a hold on the building. In Lahore I see structure after structure being built, with maybe 2% of it’s shops and spaces being occupied (and this for even more than a year).

  2. Good work by “Musharraf Supporters Team”! State Bank records below:

    In 1999 our installed capacity was merely 15,860 MW. (With Hydel 4826 + Thermal 10,897 + Nuclear 137)

    In 2005-06 our installed capacity increased to become 20,495 MW. (With Hydel 6499 + Thermal 13,534 + Nuclear 462)

  3. The question is good Wendeth. But it has to be understood, that when the cycle of progress and growth starts taking place it cannot be stopped. Stopping it will only reverse all the positive achievements, and may also cause recession. But, we can surely plan for the future. And, there are major plans in the pipeline as mentioned above. Pakistan has never seen this much momentum, therefore, it was entirely unexpected.

    But, if we take a look at the major booming economic countries of the world, they have all started facing Gas and Electricity shortages. They also realise that stopping growth by force & reversing the economy is not the answer. They are also looking for alternatives, in gas and oil exploration, and Nulcear power generation.

    WHAT South Africans have experienced in load-shedding, has already been experienced in a number of other industrialized and developing countries, with many others joining every week.

    The big stories of blackouts have come from Brazil, Cuba, Pakistan, Chile, the US state of California, the Baltic states, Iraq and Uganda, and will include Tajikistan, Rwanda, Zambia and those on the South African grid. Source.

    China now faces a 69.63 million kilowatt electricity supply shortfall, and a total of 13 provincial level power grids have been temporarily switched off to limit power usage (see this). Hundreds of larger companies — steel mills, cement plants, car factories and the like — have their own generators. Source.

    About 56 per cent of rural India today isn’t covered by electricity infrastructure and the remaining 44 per cent get a sporadic supply only. Maharashtra, faces a deficit of about 6000 Mw of power in the peak season (see this). Mumbai needs about 2600 MW of power every day and is short by about 400 MW.

  4. […] See also a response to the “Electricity Problem” […]

  5. Uss…I see your point about reversal…but there’s also a line of responsibility. Before a major building gets a license, it should be required that a certain amount of it’s space should be rented…and some sort of payment thereof to prove. This is common in many industrialized nations (as you put it 😉 ) I’m not blaming anyone or something, I’m just saying, there’s more at stake, and I think there are big issues here because of this problem. I’m also not attempting to say it’s never happened to anyone else, nor that no one is doing anything about it (I’m not angry here…..just hoping to clarify my position)….however, the fact that other nations have and are going through something similar……everyone should be learning from this lesson. It’s just sheer bad civil planning.

    Load shedding in CA is not quite what it is here….I live there when I’m not in PK…..and in most places it’s a “dimming” effect….they don’t shut everything down, they give less power. But also, many Californians are utilizing alternative energy…such as solar power…and rooftop gardens (to name a few)…these SHOULD be implemented ALL OVER the world as growth happens so we can indeed support such an incline.

    In a world that is toooo dependent on oil, we simply say “buy a generator”…..but I say that is a back door shrugging of the shoulders.

    I’m a supporter of PK, so please don’t take any of this the wrong way… issues are with human ignorance (and ignoring!) of any culture!

  6. Hi Wendeth, sorry for the late reply.

    I think you’ve raised very good and considerate points and, well, you have not said anything I would disagree with :). Just briefly, as a developing nation, Pakistan is learning (perhaps slowly) with time and from the already industrialised nations. I think the civil and buildings authorities should take a closer critical look at their practices and procedures.

    Also, the current PM Soomro, for example, has directed the authorities to use solar power for the street lights, to save electricity. So they have started to look at alternative energy sources.

    Anyway, nothing you said was taken in the “wrong way” and I look forward to your future comments on this blog 🙂

  7. […] economy and proceeded to make important the corrections. [For a written response, see this and […]

  8. […] Electricity Problem: an exposition […]

  9. […] Electricity Problem: an exposition […]

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