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Cablegate: Afghan Water and Energy Minister Ismail Khan On

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #3165 2801018
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071018Z OCT 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1995
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7972

UNCLAS KABUL 003165

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SRAP AND SCA/A
DEPT PASS AID/ASIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON PGOV AF
SUBJECT: AFGHAN WATER AND ENERGY MINISTER ISMAIL KHAN ON
INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES

1. Ismail Khan, AfghanistanQs Minister of Water and Energy,
said there has to be more emphasis on building dams and water
projects in his Sept. 29 meeting with Coordinating Director
for Development and Economic Affairs, Ambassador E. Anthony
Wayne and USAID Director William Frej. Wayne and Frej
promised continued USG partnership and praised KhanQs
agreement to proceed with further QcommercializationQ of the
Afghan electricity distribution system (which took place
September 30). Ismail Khan has been working to postpone this
transfer (Septel).

2. Also participating in the meeting were Deputy Minister for
Water Sholauddin Ziaie, Embassy KabulQs Senior Deputy
Coordinating Director, the Director of Embassy KabulQs USAID
Infrastructure Office, and the Senior Water Advisor also
participated. KhanQs comments on the Afghan security
situation are reported Septel.

PROGRESS ON ELECTRICITY


3. Ambassador Wayne noted the Afghan GovernmentQs decision to
proceed with the transfer of assets from the old government
electrical utility DABM to a new state commercial entity,
DABS, and the importance the move has for undercutting
corruption and for promoting the growth of AfghanistanQs
electrical system. The U.S., World Bank, Asian Development
Bank, and other international donors have strongly advocated
for the assets transfer. Ismail Khan and his ministry had
previously been working to block the transfer of assets to the
new electricity corporation. Note: the assets transfer took
place Sept. 30, with Minister Khan participating (Septel).
End note.

4. Khan appreciated the observation a visiting delegation
from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation had made.
Eighteen months earlier when some of the delegation members
had visited Kabul, the houses on the mountainsides around the
city were dark. Now, they had electricity, dramatically
changing the way the city looks at night and showing how
peopleQs lives are improving. Khan noted that much of the
increased electricity supply results from the new connection
between Uzbekistan with Afghanistan and discussed the plans
for shifting supplies in the coming months from other parts of
the country to Kabul. The Minister also pressed USAID for
faster progress on the USG- funded power generation plant
outside Kabul.

BUT LOOKING FOR MORE FOCUS ON DEVELOPING WATER SUPPLIES


5. Answering Ambassador WayneQs questions about what the top
priorities in the MinisterQs portfolio should be, Khan said
Qdams.Q Technical and economic feasibility studies have been
completed for small, medium, and large dams at various sites
in Afghanistan. Their construction is essential, the Minister
continued, for development and also to build the publicQs
confidence in the Government. Regulating water supplies is
also key to developing the countryQs agricultural potential as
well as hydroelectricity. Khan also reiterated a point he has
made in previous meetings, i.e., that the USG has done
excellent work in helping develop AfghanistanQs road network,
but our attention should shift to water systems development.
(Note: the draft USG water strategy contains over a dozen
small to medium multipurpose dams and the possibility of one
large multipurpose dam in the North or West in addition to
ongoing work in Kajaki and Darunta (South and East).

6. Minister Khan noted that the Ministry has identified 17
priority dams with a total cost of over $7 billion. (USAID
already had the list of these projects.) He closed by
expressing his strong confidence in the Afghan GovernmentQs
partnership with the USG and he hoped his dream of managing
AfghanistanQs water resources will be realized. Wayne and
Frej said that the USG looked forward to continuing
partnership with the Ministry and explained that the new
Kabul-based US infrastructure team of USAID and USACE was
bringing to bear the expertise of US civilian and military
engineers to identify high priority water and energy projects
we could support.

EIKENBERRY

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