What’s New in Myanmar’s Project Bank
By Nan Lwin 11 August 2020
YANGON—The Myanmar government has added to the country’s “project bank” of officially endorsed infrastructure plans nearly six dozen new major investment projects worth billions of dollars, including the construction of research and laboratory facilities, expressways and bridges, power supply projects and inland ports across the country.
Launched in February, the Myanmar Project Bank offers potential investors key data on proposed infrastructure projects such as descriptions, status, total estimated cost, financing plans and time lines. All projects listed in the bank are fully supported by the government and align with the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP)—a road map for achieving inclusive and transformational economic growth.
The 71 new major projects will be added to the bank’s existing 58, which are currently assigned various status levels, ranging from “implementing” to “conducting feasibility study” to “project contract development”.
The new list is dominated by the construction of combined-cycle power plants, solar power plants and photovoltaic system (PV system) plants across the country, and the development of inland ports in some major cities. The government has an ambitious target to achieve the electrification of the whole country by fiscal year 2029-30. Moreover, it plans to encourage a series of investments, infrastructure projects and reforms with the aim of reducing shipping costs and expanding transport capacity. Its goal is to increase transport sector investment from 1-1.5 percent of GDP to 3-4 percent under the Myanmar’s National Development Plan and the Logistics Master Plan.
Among the newly added major projects, the biggest in terms of investment amount is the US$900-million (1.22-trillion-kyat) Yangon elevated expressway (YEX), a four-lane inner ring road connecting downtown Yangon, Yangon port, Yangon International Airport, Mingaladon Industrial Zone and the Yangon-Mandalay Highway. The project is expected to be implemented with private-sector financing.
According to the project bank, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy called for additional financing for a planned $510-million solar power project covering Kyaukpahtoe, Monywa, Ngapyawdine, Nyaungbingyi and Ohntaw that aims to supply electricity to people in Sagaing Region, especially during the dry season. It will have an installed capacity of 300 megawatts (MW) and an average annual power generation of 615 gigawatt-hours (GWh).
Moreover, the government is negotiating a contract with the World Bank to upgrade and install a high-efficiency combined gas turbine unit for the 300 MW Ywama power plant in Yangon, according to the project bank. The $358-million project aims to enhance power generation capacity and stabilize power supply to the Yangon business district and other important areas such as the regional parliament, Yangon General Hospital, Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon International Airport and downtown areas.
Moreover, the new list also includes a $240-million solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Wundwin Township, Mandalay Region with an installed capacity of 150 MW and average annual power generation of 305 GWh.
The government also plans to implement the 150 MW Myaungtagar solar power project covering Taungoo, Tharyargone, Thephyu, Kamarnat and Minhla in Bago Region, and another 150 MW Myaungtagar solar power project in Yangon Region. Each project will cost $225 million, according to the project bank.
Another solar power project is proposed for Belin, Letpanhal, Myingyan, Thapyaywa and Taungtawgwin with installed capacity of 200 MW. According to the bank, it will cost $340 million and supply electricity to the people of Mandalay Region, especially during the dry season.
A solar power project planned in Chauk, Taungtwingyi and Tanyaung in Magwe Region is also listed in the project bank. It will cost $170 million and have a capacity of 100 MW. Moreover, the government plans to establish a $240-million solar PV power plant in Nabuaing Township in Mandalay Region with an installed capacity of 150 MW and average annual power generation of 305 GWh.
It also listed a $106-million power and agriculture project involving the establishment of a solar PV power plant in Hlaingtharyar Township, Yangon Region. It will have an installed capacity of 100 MW and average annual generation of 221 GWh.
Also listed is the $65-million Tagondine PV power and agriculture project in Pyi Gyi Tagon Township, Mandalay Region with total installed capacity of 60 MW, and the $64-million Pyinmana PV power and agriculture project with total installed capacity of 60 MW in Pyinmana Township in Naypyitaw.
Additionally, the government plans to implement the 40 MW Shwekyin PV power, agriculture and hydro project in Shwe Kyin, Bago Region at an expected cost of $45 million. It is also developing the $43-million, 40 MW Kun Solar PV power, agriculture and solar PV power and hydropower project in Phyu Township, Bago Region.
The project bank also listed the Chaung Tha wind power project located near Chaung Tha Beach, Pathein Township, Ayeyarwady Region. It will have an installed capacity of 30 MW and is expected to cost $65 million. The construction of a thermal power plant using waste disposal in Mon State was also added to the project bank. It said the electricity and heat to be generated by the project will reduce the use of firewood and other traditional fossil fuel-based power, such as diesel, for rubber drying purposes. The project will cost $16 million.
The rehabilitation of five hydropower plants in Yenwe, Kinda, Monechaung, Thaphanzeik and Zaungtu are also included in the bank. The government expects this to cost $4 million and the hydropower plants are expected to be able to run at full capacity, boosting power generation from 565 to 646 million kilowatt hours upon completion of the upgrades, the bank said. Currently, the five plants have been operating for between 10 and 30 years and have experienced mechanical breakdowns due to lack of heavy maintenance.
Besides the power projects, the government also added the development of inland port projects—three on the Irrawaddy River and two on the Chindwin River. It has plans to construct ports in Magwe, Pakokku, Kalewa, Bhamo and Monywa. The inland port development project on the Chindwin River in Monywa is expected to cost $44 million. Currently, Monywa Inland Port has manual facilities and cannot handle large cargo because of a lack of modern equipment.
It said the project is essential for cargo flow in Monywa, in northwestern Myanmar, as well as in Yangon, Magwe, Mandalay, Kachin and Chin states. It also aims to improve the competitiveness of river transport and enhance trade logistics with India, China and Thailand. The inland port project in Kalewa is expected to cost $24 million and involve the development of modern river port facilities and improvement of channel navigation in Kalewa Port along the Chindwin River in Sagaing Region. It said the project aims to improve the competitiveness of river transport and enhance trade logistics with India and Bangladesh.
Upstream transportation from Mandalay and Monywa along the Chindwin River is increasing and Kalewa is gaining importance as a staging point for trade between Myanmar and India, the bank said.
The inland port development in Pakokku on the Irrawaddy River is expected to cost $47 million and will involve upgrading of river port facilities in Pakokku, one of the largest cities in Magwe Region. Pakokku occupies a strategic location in central Myanmar and is connected to other parts of the country and to China, Thailand and India by multiple modes of transportation.
The inland port development in Magwe on the Irrawaddy River is expected to cost $33 million, while the Bhamo port is expected to cost $34 million.
The Irrawaddy has learned that the port project in Bhamo is not only in line with country’s strategic plan, but also a part of China’s plan to develop a “China-Myanmar Irrawaddy Economic Belt.” The strategic land and water transport route is expected to start in Kunming and run through Longchuan in Yunnan province to Bhamo in Kachin State, then to Yangon and the Indian Ocean. The Irrawaddy River is the country’s most important waterway, flowing into the Andaman Sea through the Irrawaddy Delta. China’s plan involves the transport of cargo from the Chinese border at Longchuan via the Zhangfeng/Lio Je customs gate to the northern trade hub at Bhamo by road or rail. From Bhamo, cargo and passengers could sail down the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay, Yangon and the Indian Ocean.
The project banks said the project will promote efficient cargo handling and containerization, facilitate inland water transport—which has lower greenhouse gas emission per unit of transport volume than that of road transport—create job opportunities for local people, and enhance the competitiveness of economic zones and industrial zones in the area.
Other infrastructure, research projects
The government also added nearly a dozen projects involving new and upgraded bridges, roads and airports to the bank. Among them, it plans to build the Bee Linn Chaung Bridge, which will involve construction of a new two-lane bridge beside the existing two-lane Bee Linn Chaung Bridge that was built in 1980.
The proposed bridge would become part of an arterial road network connected to the Japan-backed Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), which aims to reduce poverty by providing an important link to neighboring states and regions.
Moreover, it has listed the Second Greater Mekong Subregion Highway Modernization Project, which involves construction of a new 62-kilometer arterial highway that will extend the EWEC from Bago in Bago Region to Kyaik Hto in Mon State. It also includes a new 2.3-km bridge across the Sittaung River, with proposed financing by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The four-lane concrete highway with 3.5-meter-wide carriageway will provide easier access to the Japan-backed Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near Yangon. The EWEC is intended to connect Thailand with Yangon and the Thilawa SEZ, and then continue onwards to Pathein, the capital of the Irrawaddy Delta.
Among several road development projects listed in the bank is the Momauk-Lweje road upgrade project. It calls for the upgrading of the 79-km Momauk-Lweje Road, which is a key trading route from Kachin’s Bhamo to Yunnan’s Longchuan County in southwestern China.
It said the project aims to develop Myanmar-China border trade in the short term, and support the growth of industry and agriculture, and the development of the Bhamo harbor, in the long term. Currently, the Kachin State government is proposing that the project be implemented using a build-operate-transfer (BOT) approach.
Among several development projects, the bank listed the e-recruitment and integrated civil service system, electronic transaction reporting gateway, web portal and financial intelligence analysis system, disaster risk reduction emergency response and resettlement project, international standard electrical appliance testing laboratory,non-communicable diseases prevention and control project, and the national malaria control program.
Moreover, it added the establishment of a primary laboratory for chemical and related substances, national forest inventory and national forest monitoring information systems (NFI/NFMIS), a national water quality monitoring system and a national laboratory to improve the country’s capacity for water quality management. Other projects include the Mekong-Korea biodiversity center, capacity building and improvement of capability of air quality monitoring, tidal stations and a geodetic leveling network.
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