December 8, 2021
The Taliban opened talks with Iran and China over electricity supplies with Afghanistan, a new attempt to stave off the possibility of a frigid winter without power.
The state’s embattled power company has struggled to repay other countries for imported power, according to reports in the months since the last government fell to the Taliban.
Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the state power company, has spent the last months under threat of being cut off by Tajikistan, a major supplier. The risk of blackouts from non-payment was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
According to the outlet, the Taliban replaced the former DABS COO with one of its clerics in October, part of a trend of installing officials with little technical experience but strong ideology.
Tajikistan is a staunch opponent of the regime, likely complicating the situation.
DABS said it has struggled to pull in 26 million afghani ($270,000) in unpaid bills, and set a one-month deadline for companies and individuals to pay before it pursues legal action, local outlet TOLO News reported.
On December 1, DABS spokesperson Hikmatullah Noorzaihas also said the company has been in touch with Chinese government-affiliated companies about power production, TOLO said.
DABS still needs to source 350 megawatts to meet the country’s demands, TOLO said.
Afghanistan imports a majority of its power. With winter looming, rolling blackouts could return the country to the “dark ages,” former DABS CEO Daud Noorzai told The Wall Street Journal in October.
No country has formally recognized the Taliban government since their takeover, according to Reuters.
However, Taliban officials claimed in October that China was readying to invest billions of dollars as long as security could be guaranteed for its workers, Voice of America News reported.
Chinese mining executives visited the country in recent weeks to scout out opportunities to secure the country’s rich lithium and copper reserves, according to the Financial Times.