by Mao Pengfei, Nguon Sovan
PHNOM PENH, June 27 (Xinhua) -- China has played a major role in the development of Cambodia's energy sector through investing in energy generation and distribution grid as well as providing capacity building for government officials, Cambodian Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said.
"Moreover, Chinese investment companies have strong financial capability and adequate experiences to allow Cambodia to build a strong bilateral cooperation with them during the implementation of major projects in accordance with the Master Plan for the Energy Sector Development in Cambodia," he said in an interview with Xinhua.
The energy sector is one of the most important sectors for socio-economic development in Cambodia, said Suy Sem. It's not only playing a key role in improving people's daily lives, but also taking responsibilities for promoting economic growth, supporting development of other sectors, and modernizing rural areas.
There are four main objectives for the development of the energy sector in Cambodia, according to the minister. First, to obtain reliable, stable and secure source of energy generation; second, to expand electricity supply and distribution coverage throughout the nation; third, to ensure quality, sustainability and safe electricity supply and distribution; and fourth, to ensure affordable electricity price in order to improve better living conditions for people, create favorable environment for investments and support economic growth.
There are three main diversified sources of electricity generation which are currently under operation in Cambodia, including seven Chinese-invested hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 1,328 megawatts, three coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 515 megawatts, and solar power plants.
"Chinese-invested projects, such as hydropower plants and coal-fired power plants, are responsible for 73 percent of the total energy generated domestically," the minister said.
To date, 83 percent, or 11,759 villages of the kingdom, have electric power coverage, he said, adding that over 2.36 million households, or 70 percent of the 3.38 million households in Cambodia, have access to electricity from the national grid.
"In the future, we plan to continue construction of transmission lines to cover all of the 25 provinces in Cambodia, including the construction of the ring-looped lines to ensure stability and quality of the electricity supply," Suy Sem said, adding that all the villages will be electrified by 2020.
With the national grid coverage, the electricity price for household consumption has been significantly reduced from between 2,4000 and 3,000 riel (between 65 and 75 U.S. cents) pkh to 790 riel (20 U.S. cents) pkh or lower.
"The significance of these prominent achievements is vital to the development of the socio-economy, creating more jobs for the people, increasing national income through taxation from factories and agro-industry enterprises, improving living conditions for the people and providing convenience to students in their educational courses," he said.
The ties between Cambodia and China have been strengthened from generation to generation and are of a great value, Suy Sem said.
"The Royal Government of Cambodia strongly welcomes all kinds of investments from Chinese companies, and we are currently aiming to improve our governance procedure to create more favorable environment and conditions for investors," the minister said.
China, ranked top among foreign investors in Cambodia, has various investments in Cambodia's backboned sectors such as special economic zones, transport infrastructure, energy, agriculture, telecommunications, and tourism among others.
Besides, China has provided a great amount of aid, both in the forms of grants and loans, to Cambodia for its socio-economic development and poverty reduction.
"In this regard, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to China that has greatly contributed to the growth of Cambodia's socio-economy over the years," he said.
Suy Sem said the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will not only play a key role in promoting growth of China's economy and trade, but also become a long-term strategy to promote connectivity and cooperation among relevant countries in all fields, including infrastructure, economy, investment, finance, and people-to-people exchanges.
"We strongly support China's policies including the Belt and Road Initiative, and we will continue to support and strengthen our cooperation in all fields including politics, economy, capacity building, trade and flow of funds," he said.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.