Taliban clears $627 million in electricity debts: Spokesman

The Taliban-run Breshna Sherkat, Afghanistan’s power distributor, announced it has paid off electricity bills totaling $627 million to regional countries, including Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

Hekmatullah Maiwandi, a spokesperson for the company, stated the debts were incurred by the previous government and have now been “fully” cleared.

Maiwandi did not disclose the source of the funds used to settle these debts.

Previously, Taliban authorities at the electricity company claimed they had settled all foreign debts.

Eurasianet reported on February 1 that Daler Juma, Tajikistan’s Energy and Water Resources Minister, confirmed the country had fully paid its power debts.

The report suggests that since 2021, the Taliban-run administration has been an inconsistent payer. While it has regularly made partial payments to Tajikistan, it has struggled to completely clear its debts.

In 2023, Tajikistan exported 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, valued at $110.4 million, a 5% increase from 2022, according to Juma. He did not specify how much of this was allocated to Afghanistan.

Tajikistan currently exports electricity to Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Juma noted that most power exports occur in spring and summer, due to excess capacity from hydropower facilities, except to Afghanistan, which receives electricity year-round for essential infrastructure. The tariff details for these exports are not publicly available.

Despite these challenges, the two countries continue economic dialogue. Trade turnover in 2023 totaled $98 million, a 12% decrease from the previous year.

Taliban has also expressed interest in continuing the CASA-1000 project, a Western-backed initiative linking Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s hydropower resources to Afghanistan and Pakistan.