YANGON (REUTERS) - The World Bank has approved US$400 million (S$560 million) in interest-free credit to support Myanmar's moves to boost electricity access across one of Asia's poorest and least-connected countries.
The loan provided by the bank's International Development Association (IDA) covers financing and technical assistance for a National Electrification Plan, which seeks to power every home by 2030.
Myanmar's decades of isolation and under investment under military rule has left its predominantly rural population largely cut off from its overstretched power grid.
An anticipated boom in industry, urbanisation and sustained population growth has made power a major challenge for a country where only 70 per cent of its more than 50 million people have regular access to electricity.
The World Bank said its offering would benefit more than 6.2 million people by connecting more than 1.2 million households by 2021. "This US$400 million project will help connect towns to the grid and turn on lights in schools, clinics and remote villages," its Southeast Asia Country Director Ulrich Zachau said in a statement.
Myanmar's electricity demand has been on a steep rise since a quasi-civilian government took office in 2011 after 49 years of military rule that stifled development.
It has 70 hydropower plants producing 2,891 MW and 292 gas-fired plants that generate 1,612 MW.
Its total capacity is 4,500 MW, compared with 2,544 MW from 2011-2012 and a mere 1,717 MW in the previous three years, according to government figures.