Over the last two decades South Asia has been one of the fastest growing regions in the world, with an average annual growth rate of 6% as measured by GDP per capita. Yet despite this impressive macroeconomic growth, the energy sector in the region has not been able to keep pace, and continues to experience chronic problems of shortage of supply and poor quality of service. South Asia’s energy security dilemma is one of the signal energy development challenges of the 21st century critical to the economic future of almost 1.5 billion people and the political future of one of the world’s most volatile regions. Given this dilemma the only long-term solution is the sustained increase in regional energy cooperation among South Asian nations. South Asia Regional Initiative/Energy’s (SARI/E) role over the past decade in advocating energy cooperation in South Asia has transited to the next phase of advancing regional energy integration and Cross-Border Energy Trade in eight South Asian Countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka & Maldives). This new phase titled South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration (SARI/EI) is designed to build upon SARI/Energy’s successful initiatives of the past to move South Asian countries towards increased regional energy security. The program will address policy, legal, and regulatory issues related to energy in the region; promote transmissions interconnections; and work towards establishing a regional market exchange for electricity.
Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) through a competitive process was selected by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the implementation of the South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration (SARI/EI) program. During this five year program (2012-2017), SARI/EI programme will work to promote integration of energy systems and enhance Cross-Border Energy Trade (CBET) among the participating South Asian countries.
The main message of the program is to “Promote integration of Energy Systems and enhance Cross-Border Energy Trade (CBET) among the South Asian countries by focusing on the following three development outcomes for overall socio-economic development of the region:
Harmonize Policy, Legal and Regulatory Issues
The key result of the Harmonization of Policy, Legal and Regulatory Issues component is to create the enabling systemic conditions for a sustainable market for investment and implementation of Cross-Border Energy Trade.
Advance Transmission System Interconnections
The key result of the Advancement of Transmission System Interconnections component is to create the enabling, systemic conditions for a sustainable market for investment and implementation of sub-regional bilateral transmission interconnections beginning with the eastern sub-region of South Asia.
Establishment of South Asia Regional Electricity Markets
The key result of this component on Establishment of South Asia Regional Energy Market is to create the enabling and systemic conditions for a sustainable market for energy trading and exchange among the South Asian countries.
The overarching objective of the South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration (SARI/EI) program is to develop a common template for technical and commercial aspects of power exchange among the South Asian countries. It intends to create the right enabling environment to support the establishment of a South Asian electricity market, gain consensus and support from the key decision makers and stakeholders in the South Asia region.