INTERVIEW-Afghanistan pins hopes on dams for power and crops

Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:28pm GMT

* First dams to be touted to investors in July

* 13 dams to add 4,700 MW, irrigate 100,000 acres of land

* Loses about two-thirds of water to neighbours each year

By John Irish

PARIS, June 18 (Reuters) - Afghanistan will ask the international community to invest in a $12 billion dam construction programme in an attempt to raise power generation to boost irrigation, its economy minister said on Friday.

Landlocked Afghanistan has had historical disputes with its central and south Asian neighbours over the flow of water from mountain rivers which irrigate most of its crops. It loses about two-thirds of its water from rain and snow annually.

"(My priority) is the energy and irrigation sector, because energy encourages investment in industry, irrigation and agriculture," Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal told Reuters on the sidelines of an OECD-organised investor conference in Paris.

Pakistan and Iran have both spent billions building dams and reservoirs to store water for consumption and generating power.

Afghanistan's infrastructure has suffered after three decades of war but Arghandiwal said the first dams of a prefeasibility study will be presented to investors at an international conference in Kabul on July 20.   Continued...

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