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Harnessing Sesan River (Part 5): Cambodia and its goal for electricity self-sufficiency

In March this year, the Asian Development Bank listed Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos as the three top Asean countries which have the highest growth rates among the regional bloc.
For the past ten years, Cambodia’s economy has been growing by an average of 7 percent and the government has set the sight to upgrade the country to the status of middle-income country in 2030 by promoting investments especially garment industry and service sector. And this has spurred the increasing need of electricity.

By Thai PBS

Stung Treng, May 31, 2016

Thai PBS

In March this year, the Asian Development Bank listed Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos as the three top Asean countries which have the highest growth rates among the regional bloc.

For the past ten years, Cambodia’s economy has been growing by an average of 7 percent and the government has set the sight to upgrade the country to the status of middle-income country in 2030 by promoting investments especially garment industry and service sector. And this has spurred the increasing need of electricity.

According to the Electricity Authority of Cambodia, Cambodia bought 40-50 percent of its energy need from neighbouring countries. The Southeast Asia Energy Outlookj 2015 report which was undertaken by the International Energy Agency predicted that energy need of the region would increase to three times of the current need in year 2040 and coal was designated by IEA as the main source of fuel for electricity generating.

Mr Ho Wandee, the advisor of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce told Thai PBS that the Cambodian government has supported a Chinese company to build a hydro-electric dam in Koh Kong province.

Mr Ho said the livelihood of Cambodian people would improve if they have access to cheap electricity. He also insisted that the government had been receptive to opinions of non-governmental organizations regarding dam construction and there was environment impacts assessment study before the dam construction.

However, Mr Cam Loei, a political critic, pointed out that the Cambodian government had other options to produce electricity instead of building a dam such as the Sesan II dam which has negative consequences to the environment and quite a few rural inhabitants.

For the time being, it remains to be seen whether the Sesan II dam and other dams to be built in Cambodia will lead to conflict with its neighbours or not.

This story was produced in collaboration with The Mekong Eye and Mekong Matters Journalism Network, with full editorial control to the journalist and their outlet.

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