Pakistan is plagued by power outages on a daily basis and the energy sector represents one of the primary constraints to the country’s economic development. The country faces an electricity shortfall of around 4,000 megawatts in the sweltering summer, leading to lengthy blackouts that make ordinary people’s lives a misery and have strangled economic growth.
According to the Financial Times, the facilities would add 15% to the country’s generation capacity.
Nawaz Sharif announced the package at a briefing that it would help ensure an uninterrupted power supply.
The loans are to be provided by Chinese state-owned Exim Bank and will be repaid at a concessional rate over 20 years, according to reports.
It is the latest example of Chinese involvement in Pakistan, which is battling to get its shaky economy back on track and solve a chronic energy crisis that cripples industry.
The United States has been reluctant to provide nuclear power assistance in the past because of distrust over proliferation. It cites Abdul Qadeer Khan as a source of its concerns. Khan admitted in 2004 that he gave nuclear secrets to Libya and Iran.
Pakistan began building the 2,200-megawatt plant, set to be its largest nuclear power station, with Chinese technical assistance.
Chinese companies are working on more than 100 major projects in energy, roads and technology, according to Pakistani officials, with an estimated $18 billion expected to be invested in coming years.
Aside from the 2,200 MW project Chinese companies built two of Pakistan’s three operational reactors.
Chinese engineers are also busy in the construction of a 969 MW hydropower project in Kashmir. They have also committed to generate 6,000 MW of electricity from coal and wind in the southern province of Sindh.