ADB to loan Vietnam $730 mln to upgrade national power grid

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Vietnam and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to terms for the first tranche of a US$730-million deal aimed at upgrading the country's power distribution network.

Under the agreement inked on Friday in Hanoi, the Power Transmission Investment Program's budget will be delivered to Vietnam in four installments; the first payment will be $120.5 million.

Scheduled for completion in 2020, the national project will support the construction of almost 648 kilometers of 500 kilovolt (kV) lines and more than 100 kilometers of 220 kV lines, according to the bank's press release.

Also included in the project will be upgrades to associated substations, as well as training and other support which will be available to the National Power Transmission Corporation, owned by the state utility Electricity of Vietnam, it said.

Vietnam's demand for power is increasing by a rate of 14 percent annually, as its economy is growing, the ADB said. The annual increase is expected to continue through 2015 and then drop to 11 percent between 2016 and 2020, the bank added.

Meanwhile, despite the remarkable progress which has been made in expanding access to electricity in Vietnam, many rural and mountainous areas are not yet connected to the grid, according to the ADB.

Without expanding the network, the share of urban and rural populations without electricity would rise, particularly among lower income populations, it said.

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