Mr. Eugene Zhukov, Director General of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Central and West Asia Regional Department, has told Asia-Plus about the Bank’s possible participation in financing the Roghun hydropower project, resumption of lending to Tajikistan, and revising the country’s economic forecasts taking into account the situation of Tajik migrants in Russia.  


On Roghun hydropower project

Mr. Zhukov notes that implementation of the Roghun project is important not only for Tajikistan, but also for the whole of Central.  

“If the project is implemented as intended, it will bring great benefits to the country and the region.  And not only in terms of increasing green energyб but also in terms of water resources regulation,” the ADB official said

He further noted that the possibility of participation of this international financial institution in financing the Roghun hydropower project is being discussed within the framework of the corresponding appeal from the government of the country. 

“We have not yet reached an investment decision, but most likely will participate [in financing the Roghun project],” Mr. Zhukov added. 

The Roghun HPP is one of the largest projects in the region that can become an important factor of development of Tajikistan and the Central Asian region as a whole.  It will contribute significantly to the country’s sustainable development by efficiently utilizing natural resources, including “green” energy.

To complete the construction of the Roghun hydropower plant, Tajikistan founded OJSC NBO Roghun in April 2008 after it formally revoked a contract with Russia's RusAl aluminum company in August 2007.  To raise funds to complete construction of the Roghun HPP the government started to sell shares in Roghun to people on January 6, 2010.  Tajikistan has reportedly issued 6 billion somonis worth of 5 million Roghun shares.

In 2016, the Italian company Salini Impregilo (currently WeBuild) was contracted to implement the project.

In September 2017, the National Bank of Tajikistan issued $500 million worth of eurobonds on the international market with the express aim of funding the project.  That venture means Tajikistan is on the hook for around US$850 million to be paid to investors by 2027.

The first two generating units of the Roghun hydropower plant were introduced into operation in November 2018 and September 2019 to much clamor, but there has been limited progress since then.  The third unit is expected to be introduced into operation in 2025.  

Once completed, Roghun will be fitted with six 600 megawatt turbines, amounting to a total installed capacity of 3,600 megawatts.  Eurasianet notes that as Milan-based WeBuild has claimed on its website that is “the equivalent of three nuclear power plants.”

To-date, spending on the construction of the Roghun hydropower plant has reportedly exceeded 40 billion somonis since 2008.


On resumption of lending  

Mr. Zhukov noted that Tajikistan today qualifies as a country with high debt risk, and because of this the country cannot receive loans from ADB.   

According to him, this qualification is prepared by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in collaboration with the World Bank (WB).  

“We see that Tajikistan’s macroeconomic indicators are improving, and if this trend continues, it is not ruled out that IMF and WB will reclassify Tajikistan from the country with high debt risk into the country with medium debt risk,” the ADB official said.   

“If that happens, ADB will be able to provide partially loans to the country along with grants,” said Zhukov.  “Maybe someone thinks that grants are better than loans, but when issuing grants, the amount is limited.”


On revising the country’s economic forecasts

The ADB official says the Asian Development Bank plans to revise Tajikistan’s economic forecasts in the middle of the current year.  

“We will revise the forecasts sometime in July, taking into account the situation of Tajik labor migrants in the Russia Federation, including mass checks of Tajik migrants, deportation of them, refusals to enter the territory of the Russian Federation, refusals to issue a patent for work and other problems facing Tajik migrants after the deadly terrorist attack in Krasnogorsk,” Mr. Zhukov noted.