Wednesday April 17, 2024

Tech-based vision must to transform Gwadar into energy hub

By Rasheed Khalid
February 28, 2024
Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri can be seen in this image. — APP/File
Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri can be seen in this image. — APP/File

Islamabad: Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, has said that the discourse on a unique subject like Gwadar as an energy hub was pertinent and crucial at a time when the new government is about to take office in Pakistan.

Dr Suleri was speaking at a policy dialogue on “Gwadar as an energy hub of Pakistan: pathways for sustainable development’ organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) under its Network for Clean Energy Transition (NCET).

The SDPI chief further said the development of Gwadar as a port and a modern city has co-benefits that need to be identified. Due to COVID-19 and unavoidable geopolitical circumstances, Gwadar was not made functional at its full scale. It is still dependent on electricity imported from Iran whereas to make export zone functional will require more energy, he maintained. Since, the global community demanded to make three-fold increase in renewable energy (RE) share by 2030 at the COP-28, Pakistan is looking for renewable energy support from China as an excellent candidate for solar and offshore wind energy potential, he said.

Research scholar Dr Eram Ashraf observed that Gwadar is not connected to the national grid, so how it can become energy hub whereas it is important that the policy initiatives should be inclusive that means not only power players but also local communities should have their input and stakes in the decision-making process. The problems of protesting people, including women, needs to be addressed on priority bases,” she added.

Naghman Chaudhry, strategic analyst, said that keeping in view the recent developments in the Indian Ocean region and global geopolitical landscape, it is important for the country to embrace a change of mindset. He underlined that Gwadar is an alternate port that could be used to degravitate Central Asian Republics (CARs) from Russian influence as the Gulf oil reserves were to last not beyond 40 years. Since Karachi and Qasim Ports are susceptible to air and land attacks due to close proximity to hostile neighbouring country, Gwadar lied outside the potential war zone and was an ideal hub for trade and investment, he suggested.

Dr Scarlet Xiang Yang, Director, China Study Center, National University of Science and Technology, stressed the need to improve regulations, taxation regime and governance mechanisms to have efficient and well-defined potential forums facilitating investors and navigating dividends for better output.

Dr Hassan Daud Butt from Bahria University and former Director CPEC at the Ministry of Planning and Development, stressed that women of Balochistan are more pragmatic and participate in decision-making processes whereas the Baloch female students at Quaid-i-Azam University are passing their exams with flying colours, and thus they should be given voice in the policy making process, he said.