On January 10th, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) handed over $1.4 million of modern energy sector management equipment and software to the Coordinating Dispatch Center (CDC) Energia in Tashkent. This cutting-edge technology will allow CDC Energia’s dispatchers to display relevant information for maintaining the region’s energy regime, the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan reported. This investment will enhance Central Asia’s ability to manage and monitor electricity flows to ensure the stability of the power grid and foster increased opportunities for the regional trade in electricity. It will also modernize the work of CDC Energia as a regional Systems Operator, which faces an increasing number of challenges in connection with the intensive integration of renewable energy sources and the introduction of the electricity and capacity market in Central Asia. The Deputy Minister of Energy of Uzbekistan, Akmal Jumanazarov, U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Jonathan Henick, USAID/Uzbekistan Mission Director, David Hoffman, and the Head of CDC Energia, Khamidilla Shamsiev attended the ceremony. Ambassador Henick emphasized Uzbekistan’s prominent role in the region’s energy sector, stating that “Uzbekistan plays a vital role in the region due to its central geographical location, abundant energy resources, and key infrastructure. As Central Asia’s power system expands and becomes more complex, innovative solutions are imperative for energy sector development planning. Together, we are creating the foundation for a sustainable future to address the complex challenges of energy transition.” This delivery of modern equipment was possible through USAID’s flagship regional energy project, Power Central Asia. With a total budget of $39 million over a five-year period, the project aims to improve the performance of the energy sector, expedite clean energy development, and enhance energy security and resiliency through greater regional connectivity and expanded cross-border electricity trade. Through this project alone, USAID has leveraged $2.2 billion in clean energy investments and facilitated the installation of 2,241 megawatts of clean energy capacity across Central Asia to date. The equipment’s installation is a significant step to achieving a more resilient and efficient energy landscape in Uzbekistan and the broader region, aligning with the high-level priorities outlined in the joint decree by the presidents of the U.S. and all five Central Asian nations. In a joint statement, the parties made it known that “Through C5+1 programs such as USAID Power Central Asia, the United States and Central Asian states will unlock the economic benefits of regional clean energy trade and a clean economy future.”
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The authorities have taken firm measures to crack down on organized crime in Uzbekistan, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said, commenting on a drive to combat corruption and crime in the country. Mirziyoyev made the remarks on December 22nd, at an extended meeting of the National Council on Spirituality and Education. In his speech, President Mirziyoyev said, “We can never remain on the sidelines. Be it criminal gangs calling themselves ‘street gangs,’ corrupt officials, or those who break the law and cause harm to the state and society. Our streets, our neighborhoods, our lives should literally be peaceful and clean, free of crime. In the new Uzbekistan, the law must prevail, and punishment for crimes must be inevitable. And, of course, it will be so.” On December 22nd, Uzbek media reported that the former governor of the Izboskan District in the eastern region of Andijon, Serobiddin Ismoilov, was arrested two days earlier on charges of abuse of power. The reports come days after officials announced the arrest on corruption charges of former Agriculture Minister, Aziz Voitov; former Bekobod District chief, Shuhrat Mirzaev; the deputy governor of the Namangan region, Saidahmad Sultonov; the former governor of the Bukhara district, Khairullo Joraev; and several top Customs Committee officials.
Uzbekistan to Drill Deeper for Natural Gas A government meeting chaired by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on December 18th discussed the country’s geological exploration program for 2024. At the meeting, it was stated that work is being carried out in two directions: maintaining natural gas production volumes at existing fields and discovering new reserves. In recent years, the depth of geological exploration has been increased from 2-3 kilometers to 4-5 kilometers. As a result, new gas reserves were discovered and an additional 4.4 billion cubic meters were produced. An international consulting company was also involved in this work, which helped to identify many promising areas. Next year, it is planned to carry out seismic work on an area of 3,500 square kilometers and drill new exploratory wells. The meeting considered the ways to transition geological drilling to a depth of 6-7 kilometers using advanced technologies. The issue of attracting foreign investment in the sector was also discussed. In recent years, Uzbekistan’s natural gas industry has experienced problems due to the depletion of reserves at existing fields. This year, Uzbekistan started importing natural gas from Russia through Kazakhstan.
The South Korean company, Hyundai Engineering is considering the possibility of building small nuclear reactors (MMRs) in Uzbekistan in cooperation with the Korean Atomic Energy Institute (KAERI). The company has signed a memorandum of cooperation with KAERI on the export of said MMRs noting their economic efficiency in comparison with traditional nuclear power plants. According to the memorandum, KAERI will be responsible for the development of projects for future reactors and their licensing, whilst Hyundai will be responsible for business development, financing, procurement and construction, and installation work. KAERI has been developing modular reactors based on integrated systems (SMART) using cooling systems with high-pressure water and a capacity of 110 MW of energy since 1997. This model is ten times smaller than conventional nuclear power plants, meaning it can be built in remote and mountainous areas. In 2021, Hyundai Engineering signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Province of Alberta in Canada for the construction of a small modular reactor. A feasibility study for the project is currently being prepared. “After our project in Canada, where we celebrated the transition of electric generation to small modular reactors, we are considering expanding operations to Uzbekistan, the USA and India,” said a representative of the company.
ADB to Improve 700 km of Rural Roads in Uzbekistan The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $240 million loan to improve 700 kilometers of rural roads in Uzbekistan, making them safer and more climate-resilient in order to enhance connectivity and promote rural development, the Bank said on December 11th. “With almost half of double-landlocked Uzbekistan’s population living in rural areas that rely on agriculture as the main source of livelihood, connectivity is critical,” said ADB Director General for Central and West Asia, Yevgeniy Zhukov. “Keeping rural communities connected to markets and services through safe, reliable, and climate-resilient rural roads is essential to achieve inclusive, sustainable economic development.” Aligned with the government’s National Development Strategy 2030 and the Rural Road Strategy 2035, the project marks a key initiative to kickstart the government’s Rural Road Program. It will focus on local and inter-farm rural roads in twelve regions and the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The improvements aim to enhance capacity, quality, connectivity, ensuring safety and climate resilience through reinforced embankments, bridges, culverts, and drainage systems. As a pioneering effort in Uzbekistan and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the project will provide rural communities and farmers with all-weather access to markets, schools, health services, and district centers. “ADB will help strengthen the operational capacity of both the Committee for Roads and local governments for the sustainable maintenance of rural roads,” said ADB Senior Transport Specialist, Yongkeun Oh. “We will support the implementation of a web and GIS-based rural road asset management system to improve decision-making and planning capabilities, leading to more efficient maintenance and resource allocation.” To capitalize on improved access to markets and economic opportunities, the project also aims to empower rural women through training in sustainable agriculture and climate-resilient practices. Community development facilities will be upgraded to provide entrepreneurship and livelihood skills training, alongside campaigns to raise awareness about gender violence and road safety.
As reported on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) website, the UNDP in Kazakhstan organized a Green Projects Pitching Event for the countries of Central Asia, which aimed to spotlight innovative and sustainable initiatives across the region, showcasing a collaborative commitment to green growth and climate resilience. The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28, kicked off on November 30th and continues through to December 12th in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with a growing urgency to increase action for meaningful change. The countries of Central Asia are presenting a common regional position on the most pressing climate issues at global scale, adopting the cooperative approach: Five countries – one region – one vote. As part of a region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the Central Asian nations are actively participating in the COP28 climate policy negotiations, advocating for commitments to reduce emissions, achieve carbon neutrality, and secure access to climate finance for the region. “The climate crisis knows no borders; it is a challenge that transcends individual nations,” said Nuri Ozbagdatli, UNDP Climate Change Specialist for Europe and Central Asia. “Success in addressing this global issue requires collective action. Together, the global community must pool our expertise, resources, and innovation to tackle climate change comprehensively, ensuring a sustainable future for all. In the countries of Central Asia, we strongly believe in the vast potential offered by the region's nature, population, and especially its youth. These factors form crucial elements in our joint endeavors to confront and overcome the challenges posed by climate change." The event was opened by the Ministers of Ecology from three Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. "Achieving a substantial reduction in greenhouse gases requires significant financial investment,” said Yerlan Nyssanbayev, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan, in his welcoming speech. “The strategy of low-carbon development adopted by Kazakhstan this year estimates a net investment of US$610 billion in low-carbon technologies. At the same time, the importance of climate financing, which helps societies and economies build resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change, cannot be overstated."