The Straits Times
Published on Feb 16, 2013

World Bank eyes Myanmar electricity sector as ties expand


WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The World Bank is discussing plans to add 120 MW of electricity in Myanmar - enough to provide power to five million people - in support of the South-east Asian country's reforms after debt arrears were cleared, a senior bank official said on Friday.

"Unfortunately only 25 per cent of the population have access to electricity, so clearly there is an enormous challenge and our medium-term agenda is... to turn on the lights, particularly in the rural areas," said Mr Axel van Trotsenburg, the bank's East Asia and Pacific Region vice president.

"We would like to see that there is a much broader-based sharing of development and electricity will be important there," he told reporters in Washington, following a five-day tour of the country also known as Burma.

Myanmar President Thein Sein, who heads a quasi-civilian government, has freed political prisoners, unmuzzled the media and begun to reform the economy. In response, Western countries have eased sanctions imposed on the military regime.