|Work underway to ensure electricity supply to Tua Sin Chai Commune in Lai Chau Province. The national rural electrification programme has been a great success with 15.8 million, or 96.7 per cent of rural households, gaining access to power last year.— VNA/VNS Photo Xuan Truong
HA NOI (VNS) — The national rural electrification programme that began in 1998 has been a great success with 15.8 million, or 96.7 per cent of rural households, having access to power last year, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said on Saturday.
Addressing an online review conference, he said the programme has played its part in developing the country and reducing poverty.
The first phase of the programme, called the rural energy project, cost over VND3.2 trillion (US$150.4 million), of which $150 million had been borrowed from the World Bank.
It has benefited 976 rural communes with 550,000 households.
According to national utility Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN), which has carried out the programme until now, official development assistance (ODA) from international donors was a decisive factor in the programme's success.
In the reviewed period, nearly VND48 trillion VND ($2.25 billion ) has been pumped into the programme, bringing power to remote and extremely disadvantaged areas, including border areas and islands, EVN reported at the meeting.
EVN Chairman Hoang Quoc Vuong commented that the programme has contributed to giving rural areas a facelift, facilitated agricultural development as well as the sector's downstream industries like the processing industry.
He pointed to a 6.6 fold increase in agriculture production value in 1998-2013 as proof of the programme's success.
Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director, said many countries were interested in the success story of Viet Nam's rural electrification programme.
She pledged that her institution would continue aiding the country by helping it find funds for infrastructure construction during the 2014-2020 period.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said at the conference that programme's success was built on the back of strong support from the entire political system and local people.
The country has embarked on a national energy development programme until 2020 and beyond, under which over 98 percent of the population should be connected to the national grid by 2015 and all rural residents will use electricity by 2020.
This is not going to be an easy task given that at current average per capita consumption of 1,200 kWh a year, the country is suffering an acute energy shortage.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the rural electrification progamme's urgent task is to supply power for 12,000 remote villages and hamlets and improving the rural power transmission lines, which will benefit around 7 million households.
The tasks would require around VND80 trillion ($3.76 billion), the ministry said at the meeting. — VNS