Bangladesh has made significant achievements in power generation but transmission and distribution are still big challenges for the quality supply of electricity, said speakers at a seminar on Saturday.
To ensure the quality supply of power, a large investment is needed where the private sector must be engaged, they said at the virtual seminar titled "50 years of Independence and the Progress in the Power Sector" organised by the Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB).
Mohammad Hossain, director general of Power Cell, made a presentation on the progress of the power sector, showing that the country's journey had started with 300-megawatts of electricity and now it stands at 24,000 megawatts.
"We have not only increased the generation capacity, but also brought down the system loss to a single-digit," he said.
Speaking as a special guest, Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, said that the quality of electricity would be the main challenge in the future.
"We can supply electricity to every house but we will not be able to ensure sustainable and quality power without an investment in the transmission and distribution sector," he said.
"Keeping the distribution system in the IC sector is not a good decision for the future. Instead, we can generate efficiency by inviting in the private sector," he continued.
Energy Advisor to the prime minister Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, however, disagreed with Ahsan H Mansur.
He said the time has not come to consider power as a private good and it is still a merit good for hundreds of people.
"We cannot afford the privatisation of the distribution system. We have seen that Kolkata suffered from load shedding as Tata had stopped supplying electricity due to its losses," he added.
He further said this means Bangladesh has to take the proper policy that will be perfect for the countrymen.
The energy advisor said, "Now we are presenting Bangladesh statistically, but that was not easy to achieve. Hesitation and confusion were overtaking different policies and decisions, including rental and quick rental and independent power producers' model."
State Minister of Power Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said that in 2009 the government announced it would bring the entire country under the coverage of electricity though it has no funds to buy fuel and that is why the then-leadership faced challenges.
"Although the government has faced criticism from every corner of the society for the special act on the speedy power and energy supply, this act was the key policy that brought the results we see today," he said.
Among others, Bangladesh Independent Power Producers' Association President Imran Karim and FERB President Arun Karmakar spoke at the seminar.