Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Services Program(IRP) written in English, Dari and Pashto
Keshim-Faizabad Road, looking upstream on Kotcha River Schoolgirls at well pumping clean water Afghan workers building part of a bridge Asphalt being laid on an Afghan road A section of North West Kabul Power Plant Aerial view of the Kajakai Dam

Good Neighbors Share Electric Power
A transmission tower sits in the distance behind large cliffs.
Soaring transmission towers dot the Salang Pass on their way to Kabul where they deliver imported power from bordering countries.
Like sentries, transmission towers stand throughout Afghanistan. Each is 20 feet tall, and a line of 1,389 of them stretches between Uzbekistan and central Kabul.

These soaring giants string together 419 kilometers of double circuit wires. Since 2009, they have delivered 24-hour electricity to Kabul and neighboring areas. Thousands of similar towers range between the borders of Tajikistan and Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province and from Turkmenistan to Andkoy and Hirat.

The towers deliver almost two trillion kilowatt hours annually to the North East Power System and parts of the South East Power System. Costs are as low as two cents per kilowatt hour. The power import agreement that makes this possible is overseen by USAID and its Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program.

Afghanistan’s need for power presently outstrips its ability to generate it, while Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have excess power that can be sold at negotiated rates over contracted periods of time. The contract with Tajikistan will last for twenty years; with Turkmenistan, for ten. The Uzbek contract is reviewed annually.

There have been challenges. Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain, sometimes at heights of 3,800 meters, or 12,500 feet, makes damaged or downed lines difficult to reach and repair. Insurgent activity also poses dangers. Yet imported power is one of the reasons why Kabul and other cities continue to receive a steady supply of round-the-clock electricity.

The existence of these important agreements—and the engineering and construction feats they have made possible—show that Afghanistan can build not just a necessary power grid, but also lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with its neighbors. It is the U.S. Government’s support that has made these agreements possible and that has led to the creation of a reliable energy sector that will serve the needs of Afghanistan and the region for years to come.

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