This year’s state visit of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, to the Kyrgyz Republic on 26 and 27 January will be a landmark in bilateral relations. Javokhir Badalov
The summit brought the parties to a level of comprehensive strategic partnership. The summit saw the signing of 25 documents, including a protocol for the exchange of instruments for ratification of an accord on certain sections on the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan border, the Intergovernmental Program for Strategic Trade and Economic Partnership for the 2023-2025 period, and other documents.
My opinion is that the signing of an agreement for the construction of Kambarata HPP-1 was one of the most important events of the trip. On the eve the meeting of heads of state, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan signed an investment agreement. On January 6, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan had signed a roadmap to implement the project in Bishkek. It is planned to build a dam of 256 meters height and a reservoir of 5.4 billion cubic metres. The HPP will generate approximately 5.6 billion kWh per year.
This project is a landmark not only for the involved countries but also for the region. The successful implementation of this project will set the stage for the sustainable development and energy security of Central Asia.
The HPP is unique in that it includes three countries as part of a joint mega-project. These parties will work together to harness the 930 billion kWh of hydropower potential in Central Asia. However, only 11% have managed to master it despite all the efforts made.
The implementation of Kambarata HPP-1 has become more important in the context of increasing demand for affordable and sustainable energy in Central Asia. This is due to the rapid growth of the economy, population, and the intensifying of industrial cooperation in this region.
By 2030, Kazakhstan’s electricity consumption will reach 136 billion kWh. This is an increase of 21% over 2020. In Uzbekistan, this figure is 120.8 billion kWh. Kyrgyzstan has more than 20 billion (a 50% increase).
The planned HPP will allow for the creation of additional generating capacity that can be integrated into one energy ring in Central Asia. This will improve the reliability of the supply of cheap electricity to the local market. This will allow for the creation of a common energy marketplace.
The energy resources that have been released can also be sold to third-country markets. The commissioning of Kambarata HPP-1 is expected to make it possible for energy exports worth $234 millions annually.
The implementation of the project will be an important factor in the security of Central Asia’s food supply. The Norin River will provide water resources that are more efficient and can be used to meet irrigation needs. This is especially important in summer when high temperatures cause water shortages.
Uzbekistan has been developing agroindustrial cooperation with Kyrgyzstan. Both countries are currently implementing joint projects to cultivate fruits and vegetables, supply cattle, and other activities. This project will have a significant impact on the supply of water to irrigated areas as well as the continuous supply of electricity to industrial facilities.
It is becoming a necessity to build hydroelectric power plants. These plants are an affordable and clean source of energy. Globally, environmental control is being strengthened. The EU will impose a tax in 2026 on products that emit high levels of carbon dioxide. Uzbekistan’s and Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric power stations will generate electricity, which will enable them to offer clean energy products on the market.
The Kambarata HPP-1 investment agreement is a natural continuation of high-level cooperation between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan in both the water and energy sectors.
Despite the difficulties that have occurred, Tashkent & Bishkek have created mutually acceptable mechanisms of cooperation in this field. According to the agreement, Uzbekistan supplies electricity in spring and fall to neighboring countries while Kyrgyzstan receives it in summer.
This has led to Uzbekistan’s agriculture receiving the required amount of water. Kyrgyzstan, on the other hand, is able to accumulate water for its proper use.
The Joint Water Commission was established in August 2022 to coordinate these and other processes more effectively. Notable is the fact that an interdepartmental Agreement was signed at its first meeting on cooperation in water management issues.
Our country actively participates in the supply and transportation of electricity to Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan supplies electricity to Kyrgyzstan and, through its energy networks, ensures that electricity is transported from Turkmenistan. This transit volume was over 1 billion kWh in 2021-2022.
It is clear that the tripartite construction project of the Kambarata HPP-1 is a sign of a new regional dynamic. Two hydroelectric power plants on the Zarafshan River were built by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan earlier. This shows that cooperation in the energy and water sector of Central Asia can be a unifying factor.
Both parties show that they are able to resolve complex issues constructively by coming up with mutually acceptable compromises. This cooperation could be an example for other regions facing similar problems.
The agreements made following Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s state visit in Kyrgyzstan were, in general, unprecedented. These agreements will open up a new chapter in relations between the two fraternal nations and peoples and contribute to the security, stability, and sustainable development of the Central Asian region.
Javokhir Baalov is the chief researcher at the ISRS , under the presidency of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
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