Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day Six: China Power Investment Corporation

Day Six

China Power Investment Corporation

For our last meeting of the trip, we were honored to meet with three representatives from China Power International (CPI), a major Chinese SOE working on a number of hydropower projects in Myanmar. Most notable of their projects has been the construction of the Myitsone Dam, of which the Myanmar Government forced a stop to the construction in 2011 due to local opposition to the project. CPI said that they had assumed the government was taking care of public concerns and were taken aback with the forced suspension. The opening of the country to more investment from abroad has been a challenge for Chinese firms who had worked with the former military government with ease, but CPI remains determined to continue expanding power projects in the country and give back more to help the country develop.

Meanwhile, Myanmar is a highly underserved market for energy service. Chow Jing Hwa, the Vice President of CPI, told us that while the US operates at 1.3 kilowatts of power use per capita and China operates at 0.178 kilowatts per capita, Myanmar operates at a mere 0.05 kilowatts per capita. The whole country, including the large cities like Yangon and Mandalay, report frequent power outages. Nevertheless, around 100 gigawatts of hydroelectric potential is found in the country, while only 2.6 gigawatts has been developed to date. CPI hopes to continue to build hydropower electricity in the future, but is having to deal with more public opposition to Chinese encroachment and incoming competition from abroad. According to Mr. Chow, working in Myanmar has been more challenging than working in other countries that CPI operates due to a lack of clear operating standards in the country, a lack of well-trained engineers, the lack of any third party groups to monitor government actions, and the security concern with armed minority groups.

To ease local concerns about CPI’s operations, they have begun building their CSR programs in the country, something that the Myanmar government has highly been stressing in recent years. In 2013, CPI issued their first CSR report, which is available on request. It has been hard, however, as there is a struggle to define how much of role investors should take in development projects which should be run by the government. While CPI wishes that it could be doing more, right now it will continue to do its best with the limited opportunities and large restrictions currently in place.

~Kevin J Cottrell




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