Energy Paves the Way for Development

The sky is blue and the sun is shining on the desert that is located close to the city Khulm in northern Afghanistan’s Balkh province. New shapes of power supply lines, transformers and masts start appearing. A modern electrical substation takes form. The station converts the high voltage of 220 kilovolts, incoming from the transmission lines, to 20 kilovolts, making it possible to transport electricity to the surrounding cities and villages.

Mohammad Aman Spar is associate director of the energy provider DABS in Balkh province. He remembers what the situation was like before April 2016, when the new substation was connected to the power network: “With a 20 kilovolt line, energy can be transmitted over a distance of 20 to 30 kilometres. In the past, we had to use a 55-kilometre-long connection to supply the district Khulm. We constantly faced extreme voltage fluctuations – once, the voltage was so high that people’s electrical devices broke down. Then again, is got so low that many machines and devices didn’t work at all.”

Stable energy supply should not be a luxury. Without it, businesses seize to produce, pumping systems for drinking water or water supply are unable to operate, and fridges in grocery stores stop working. Extreme voltage fluctuations paralysed the region’s economic development and complicated students’ lives at schools and universities, when they tried to study their textbooks without a light after nightfall.

Thanks to the new electrical substation, these difficulties are now history. The German government provided funding for the building’s construction at a total cost of nearly AFN ½ billion. Siemens built the station, with the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water as lead partner. “Three cable and overhead transmission lines lead from the substation to the city Khulm and its immediate surroundings. We built two extra transmission lines at our own expense, which allowed us to cover a part of the city Khulm and even supply some users in Mazar-e Sharif with electricity,” Spar contently explains.

To create a good foundation for energy supply, the German government is financing two more energy distribution networks for the cities Khulm and Pir Naghchir. The construction will amount to a cost of more than AFN 600 million. As soon as these networks are finished, they will also be connected to the new substation.

Spar looks at the future optimistically: “Electricity paves the way for development. Life is difficult without electricity. For this reason, I am very glad that we have made such great progress with the new station and the distribution networks.”

Publication: 09/2016
Programme: Connecting Afghanistan’s northern towns, cities and municipalities to the grid (NEPS I and II)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Partner: Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS - Afghanistan’s national power utility)
Implementing organisation: KfW Development Bank
Provinces: Balkh, Samangan
Programme objective: Provide a reliable and suitably high-quality electricity supply to locations in Northern Afghanistan that are currently underserved.
Overall term: August 2010 – December 2019


Electricity paves the way for development. Life is difficult without electricity.
More stories in this sector