Read Håkon Gulbrandsen's speech to the Nepal Tunnelling Conference:
Members and experts representing Nepal Tunnelling Association, International experts on Tunnelling, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
I gives me great pleasure as the Chargé d'affaires of the Norwegian Embassy in Nepal to give this opening address. Thank you very much for the invitation.
I know that you are gathered here today to further improve your professional competence in the area of site investigation, Tunnel design and construction of tunnels as part of civil construction in hydropower and other infrastructure projects. The field of expertise will only be more crucial in the years to come, while Nepal is working towards graduating from the group of least developed countries.
I am aware that Nepal Tunnelling Association has been organizing a series of these trainings and conferences since 2011. Norway is glad to contribute to the support of these events in order to enhance the capacity building of Nepali experts working in infrastructure projects and facilitate the professional networking of those working in the field of hydropower infrastructure.
Norway has a long history in Nepal when it comes to supporting capacity building of institutions and training of young professionals involved in the development of hydropower sector. We are still very much committed to support Nepal’s ambition to develop the hydropower sector, which can be an engine of growth for the overall economy of the country, as it was in Norway 50-60 years ago. From 2015, Nepal will get an even more prominent place in the Norwegian development policy, being one of 12 focus countries per our development initiative. Energy will continue to be one of the pillars in this phase of our cooperation.
The Norwegian Embassy together with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are therefore laying the groundwork to scale up Norway’s support to Nepal. Access to energy is crucial for economic growth and to improve the living conditions of Nepali citizens.
Norway and a number of other Development Partners are addressing, access to energy in the off grid sector with a significant support to the Nepali government through the National Rural Renewable Energy Program. By 2017 this program will provide lighting, cooking solutions to more than one million household in rural Nepal.
In the commercial hydropower sector, Norway has committed to contribute to supporting transmission infrastructure in several transmission corridors to evacuate power from future hydropower projects. Norway recently signed a co-financing agreement with Asian Development Bank to support several transmission lines in Kali Gandaki and Marsyandi Corridors. With this signing Norway’s grant support to Nepal’s Transmission Line projects equals to 510 million kroner (or approximately 73 million dollars).
Based on our assessment;
- Firstly, we see the need to improve the regulatory set up and the need for establishing power trading companies
- Secondly, we see the need to build capacity and improve efficiencies of government agencies to manage large contracts to complete infrastructure projects in time and within budget
There will always be resource constraints. Therefore proper planning from the Government and a coordinated effort between Government and Development partners is needed. Norway is advocating a Government driven sector wide approach to the current power crisis in Nepal. The Embassy is working with Nepal and other development partners to bring together Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) and Energy+, two global initiatives, which can bring more resources to support energy access initiatives in Nepal.
We have continued to create a program called Energize Nepal to support research and capacity building, with the objective to bring experts from the industry and academia together to address challenges in the sector. Energize Nepal will assist in continuing the good work of facilities such as Turbine Testing Lab, Hydro Lab and support the establishment of new facilities such as a Geo Lab and training programs for experts like you working in the hydropower sector.
I have briefly shared with you an outline of our engagement in the Energy sector in Nepal. You are the experts dedicated to seeing an equitable access to clean sustainable energy to your fellow citizens.
May I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the partnership between Nepal Tunnelling Association (NTA) and Norway. We have been supporting NTA conference for the last four years and are pleased with NTA effort to bring together International and Regional sector experts. While we continue to value this partnership, we would like NTA to diversify your funding source for the long-term sustainability of NTA activities in the future. We also see the need for the partners and the private sector of NTA to contribute more so that members and participants can support NTA’s future efforts.
Finally I want to show my appreciation to experts gathered here today for sharing your knowledge on building tunnels.
I wish you all the best with the conference. Thank you!