DHAKA, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Bangladesh is seeking $7 billion of foreign investment to boost its electricity generation, a shortage of which has slowed the country’s economic development, a government adviser said on Thursday.
“We invited foreign investors during a four-day road show in Singapore and New York as we need huge direct foreign investment to spur our economy,” said Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy and power adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The two-day show in Singapore was held from Jan. 25, followed by another in New York from Jan. 28.
“About 25 globally reputed companies like Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Siemens (SIEGn.DE), AES Corp (AES.N), ConocoPhillips (COP.N), Caterpillar (CAT.N) and HSBC (HSBA.L) participated in the road show and showed keenness to invest in Bangladesh,” Tawfiq told a news conference.
Bangladesh also held a similar show last month in London.
Due to technical constraints and shortfalls of natural gas supply, Bangladesh can produce only around a maximum of 3,700 MW of electricity while peak hour demand reaches more than 5,500 MW, officials said.
Electricity demand has been growing by 7.50 percent annually since 1990.
Around 40 percent of Bangladesh’s 150 million population has access to electricity, one of the lowest levels in the world.
“Augmenting electricity generation is a key priority of the present government and we are committed to generate 5,000 MW by 2011, and 7,000 MW by 2013 and that will require an investment of $7 billion,” Tawfiq told reporters.
The government will float a pre-qualification international tender this month to set up four natural gas or diesel fired power plants with total capacity of 800 MW, he said.
He said another pre-qualification international tender would be floated in July this year for four coal-fired plants.
Tawfiq said foreign experts would visit Bangladesh in March to discuss liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports.
“We feel that it would not be difficult as the private sector investors both at home and abroad, along with our development partners including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, expressed desire to play a major role in this, while the government will play the role of the catalyst,” he said.
Bangladesh also plans to import up to 1,200 MW of electricity from India by the middle of 2012. (Reporting by Serajul Islam Quadir; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Anthony Barker)