Private Sector Struck By Electricity Costs, Say Industry Leaders

Wires spread out from an electric box near Independence Monument in Phnom Penh. Industry leaders have expressed frustration with the high cost and poor reliability of grid energy in Cambodia.

The high cost of electricity is draining the competitiveness of the private sector, industry leaders said during the Cambodia International Business Summit yesterday, while government officials claimed that prices would soon drop through state-backed power generation schemes.

Council for the Development of Cambodia secretary general Sok Chenda Sophea noted during his address on manufacturing that the Kingdom had invested huge amounts into hydropower, and to a lesser extent coal, to generate electricity and help reduce the need to import it. With more projects expected to come online and new transmission lines established, industrial consumers should begin seeing a difference in their electricity bills.

“Cambodia used to import a lot of electricity from Vietnam, but now we have people on the ground investing in transmission lines from power generation sources. For example, Bavet will be fully connected to the national grid by next year,” said Sophea. “Last year we were importing 28 percent of our electricity consumption. This year it should fall to 25 percent, and we hope by 2018 or 2019 we will be self sufficient when the power projects come online.”

High electricity costs are Cambodia’s “biggest challenge on a macroeconomic level”, according to National Bank of Cambodia director-general Chea Serey, who noted that the Kingdom would struggle to compete with other manufacturing destinations in the region until the prices dropped to a manageable level.

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