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Editorial: Kabul blackouts

In this modern age when every daily activity largely depends on electricity, Afghanistan still suffers from the scarcity of power, which is imported by our sole power utility from Central Asian countries. However, the utility has proven inadequate to meet the needs of people in the whole country. Besides, the Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat (DABS), a semi-government power-distribution company, is struggling with many issues. The first and foremost of its problems are the strongmen defaulters who refuse to pay their arrears, not to mention the constant blowing up of its pylons by the militants. It’s also accused of price discrimination in some areas in order for it to compensate for its losses. But now the unreasonably long-lasting power load-shedding has troubled Kabul residents. This is while the problem of shortage of electricity is usual in the winter season but now the residents have to put up with frequent outages in summer as well. There are apprehensions that corruption has found roots in this power utility too because there are some specific areas that enjoy an uninterrupted supply of power while others are hardly hit by blackouts. Moreover, this issue is taking its toll on the capital inhabitants when the majority of the people are working and studying online due to the coronavirus-induced lockdowns and thus need continuous access to power. People resent having to go without electricity for six to seven hours on a daily basis. Given these long spells of load-shedding, the government and DABS need to heed due attention to resolving this problem. On the other hand, this issue needs sustainable solutions because the consumption of the utility is increasing day by day in the country. As the company only buys and sells electricity – something that isn’t meeting the needs of Afghans – the private sector and the government, as well as aid-giving countries, should look into investing in Afghanistan’s water-management field and therefore start projects of hydropower dams. It’s only dams that could satisfy Afghans’ needs in terms of power which will also lead to the construction of irrigation systems as their by-product. Fortunately, we have numerous capable water resources in the country, they just need to be tapped and put into proper use. Nevertheless, the sine qua non to all this is reaching an understanding with our neighboring countries, with whom we share water resources. They have so far been the primary hurdles and spoilers to our water projects and power dams.

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