Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide US$185 million in loan assistance to significantly boost Bangladesh’s power supply system. 
The assistance will also help to reduce outages and shortages that are crippling the economy and causing severe hardship across the country.
It is the first tranche of ADB financing under an overall multi-donor-supported project, titled Power System Expansion and Efficiency Improvement Investment Program, of $1.6 billion with ADB contributing $700 million.
The other co-financiers supporting the program include Agence Française de Développement, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the Islamic Development Bank.
The investments are part of a broader government plan to reform and strengthen the power sector, tapping private sector financing. The goal is to raise generating capacity to more than 12,500 MW and the rate of electrification to 68 percent by 2015.
An agreement to this end was signed on Wednesday between the government of Bangladesh and the ADB at the ERD conference room in city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Joint Secretary Saifuddin Ahmed and  Stefan Ekelund, Deputy Country Director and Officer-in-Charge of ADB’s Bangladesh Resident Mission, signed the agreement, on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively at a simple ceremony.
The overall program will connect 450,000 households to the power grid and reduce carbon emissions by almost 2.5 million tons per year when the project is completed in 2018.
Power system and financial management training will be given to staff in sector institutions, and a pilot project with around 200 solar energy-driven irrigation pumps will be established, benefitting around some 4,000 poor farming families.
BBN/SSR/AD-03Apr13-8:48 pm (BST)