Utilities of Bangladesh
Electricity demand in Bangladesh has been increasing by 200 MW per year since 1996. The total demand is projected to be more than 12,000 MW by 2016. The country has an installed electricity generating capacity of around 4.68 GW, of which more than 90 per cent is thermal and the rest hydroelectric. The sector is open to private sector participation at all levels. In 2010, the country signed a deal to import electricity from India. Despite this, electricity shortages have been common in the country for many years, due largely to infrastructural inefficiencies.
Power is one of the major reasons for slow GDP growth. With this in mind, the government has recognised the power sector as a priority sector for development and, in 1996, adopted its Private Sector Power Generation Policy to promote private sector participation in electricity generation. The revised 2004 Private Sector Power Generation Policy provides a number of incentives for foreign investment in the power sector. More recently, the government has focused on further developing power generation projects through the private sector and public–private partnerships.
The electricity supply in Dhaka is maintained by two organisations: the government-owned Dhaka Electric Supply Authority and the Dhaka Electric Supply Company. Beyond the capital, several private and public corporations operate on various levels of power generation, distribution and management. The government-owned Rural Electrification Board is in charge of managing electricity in rural areas.
Bangladesh has small oil reserves and the potential for natural gas exploration. It imports all of its petroleum and crude oil. The government-owned Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation is the only company involved in the exploitation and marketing of oil. The country’s gas reserves have a greater diversity of corporate involvement.
Bangladesh has abundant water resources, of which the majority is groundwater. However, the provision of clean and unpolluted water remains a problem due to the presence of arsenic in the ground. The Bangladesh Water Development Board leads the country’s water resources management and development, while the Local Government Engineering Department deals with the local water infrastructure.
Over the last quarter of a century, private sector involvement in the water and sanitation sector has dramatically increased. Thanks to private sector influence, effective hand-pumps and water sanitation equipment are available extensively from traders throughout Bangladesh. Competition has been effective at keeping prices reasonable and products reliable.
Between the 1970s and the mid-1990s some five million wells were drilled to provide safe drinking water and in 2010 the UN estimated that 81 per cent of the population was using an improved drinking water source, with 56 per cent having access to adequate sanitation facilities.
Historically, the telecommunications sector in Bangladesh has been monopolised by the government-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB). Liberalisation of the sector began in 1989 when licenses were granted to private telecommunications companies. In 2008, BTTB was rebranded as a public limited company, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL), with shares in the company due to enter the public domain. At the beginning of 2014, BTCL was still entirely government owned. BTCL operates the largest landline network in the country, while private company Grameenphone is the largest mobile telecoms firm in the country.