Completing grid connection to 100% of communes: Vietnam is model for many countries

This is the confirmation made by Mr. Van Tien Hung - Senior Energy Specialist of the World Bank (WB) in Vietnam at an interview with the reporter from Electricity Magazine after EVN “reach the target” to supply power to 100% of communes nationwide.

Mr. Van Tien Hung

Reporter: What do you think about the efforts made by Vietnam in general, of EVN in particular to supply power to 100% of the communes nationwide?

Mr. Van Tien Hung: In my point of view, the power supply to 100% of communes is a great achievement of the Vietnamese Government in general and of EVN in particular. I do remember, more than 10 years ago (2007), the President of the World Bank came to Vietnam and went to learn about the Rural Area Energy Project right after his taking office. The President highly appreciated the efforts by the Vietnamese Government in the Rural Electrification Program. After that, many countries in the region as well as in Africa came to Vietnam to learn experiences and model, then deploy rural electrification in their countries.

To gain this success, there are three decisive factors. Firstly, it is the strong commitment made by the Vietnamese Government as well as the entire Central agencies and bodies at all levels who have formulated policies on sustainable and effective energy development, implementation of targets under the roadmap, priority by regions. Secondly, Vietnam has developed a highly complete rural electrification strategy with the intention of “joint action by the State and the people”, “joint action by the Central and localities”, which has mobilized the entire force as well as collective strength in rural electrification. Finally, EVN, as a state-owned enterprise, has properly performed its tasks in advising the Government and directly implementing its tasks to rapidly achieve its set targets.

Reporter: With the specific feature in economy, society, geography of Vietnam, in your opinion, which are difficulties facing EVN in the power supply of national grid to rural, remote areas?        

Mr. Van Tien Hung: In 2006, EVN piloted supply power to 8 remote communes in the Northern mountainous provinces. After reviewing the program, it was assessed by experts that the social, security and national defense efficiency in these localities was gained at very high level, but the economic efficiency for enterprises was very low, including the communes, as calculated, it may take them up to 100 years to recover investment, even the investment may never be recovered.

In the process of rural electrification, the big challenge facing EVN is the matter of investment capital, particularly in remote, border and island communes, due to low population density, complex topography, difficult transport, the cost for power supply to a household in many areas is more than VND 100 million/household. This is a large amount of money and a big challenge for EVN. Moreover, its economic efficiency is low, much investment capital, while low power consumption, with many households’s electricity bill payment at under VND 10,000/month, the cost of repair, maintenance, operational management become much more expensive, EVN nearly shall bear compensation for losses. Additionally, due to the low and scattered population density, uninterrupted topography, frequent storms and floods, the operation, maintenance and collection of electricity bills become very difficult, requiring more human resources, this causes many difficulties in EVN’s productivity growth.

Reporter: Has been there many countries with similar economies to Vietnam achieved this target, sir?

Mr. Van Tien Hung: I also have opportunities to travel to many countries and I realize that, with the similar economic conditions as Vietnam’s, just a few countries can supply power to 100% of communes and 99% of households like Vietnam. We have not got latest statistics, but by the end of 2016, in the world, averagely 87.35% of households had been using power, the figure for middle-income countries had been 90.9%, for such countries with the same development level as that of Vietnam such as Indonesia at 97.6%, and Philippines at 91%. It can be said that this is a great achievement made by Vietnam and it is a model for many countries to learn from and refer to.

Reporter: Could you tell us how has WB supported Vietnam in the power supply to the countryside over the past years?

Mr. Van Tien Hung: WB has researched and deployed the long-term assistance program to support the Vietnamese Government in the field of rural electrification since its resumption of relations with Vietnam (early of 2000s) with such activities as: Assisting the Government to maintain the development momentum of the rural electrification program; funding 4 direct projects to the rural power grid equivalent to USD 720 million; supporting 18 projects for the whole Power sector with a total capital of nearly over USD 4 billion. Additionally, the WB established technical standards for rural power grid; coordinated with concerned parties to research the modes for managing the rural power grid; performing training for 2,100 trainees, including ones in electrical intermediate and college levels (long-term course) and 3,600 trainees in management, business and customer care skills (short-term course) for EVN.

Reporter: In the coming time, Will WB support Vietnam in general and EVN in particular in power supply to households not connected to power grid, sir?

Mr. Van Tien Hung: EVN has been a key partner of the WB, so we still commit to actively cooperate with EVN in all fields, from technical assistance to investment, or power supply to around 1% of households not yest supplied power. Once requested by the Government, as well as EVN, we are always ready and confident to support this program, target.

Reporter: In your point of view, which are limitations faced by EVN in power supply to rural, mountainous, island areas need overcoming?

Mr. Van Tien Hung: In my opinion, EVN has properly completed their tasks.

Reporter: In your point of view, in the coming time, which assistance that EVN needs to supply power to 1% of the remaining households in the country?

Mr. Van Tien Hung: In the near future, EVN will need a lot of investment capital, active support from the Government as well as organizations at home and abroad.

Reporter: Thank you for your time! 

Results from support of WB to EVN in rural power from 2000 to  August 2018:

- Improve and expand the power grid for 1,960 communes, improve the quality of power for 2.03 million households.

- Reduce the rate of power loss in communes implemented projects from 30-35% to 7-10%.

- Save 450GWh, reduce emissions of 184.5 thousand tons CO2 each year, etc.

  • 13/08/2018 02:33