Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

RAWEC is the captive utilities (power, water and steam) provider to Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company (Petro Rabigh Corporation).
Updated 22 October 2019

Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

  • Experts say deal will usher in more economic and development opportunities for the country

DHAKA: Saudi Arabia’s energy giant, ACWA power, will set up an LNG-based 3,600 MW plant in Bangladesh after an agreement was signed in Dhaka on Thursday.

The MoU was signed by ACWA Chairman Mohammed Abunayyan and officials from the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), officials told Arab News on Monday.

According to the agreement, ACWA will invest $3 billion in Bangladesh’s energy development sector, of which $2.5 billion will be used to build the power plant while the rest will be spent on an LNG terminal to facilitate fuel supply to the plant. Under the deal, ACWA will also set up a 2 MW solar power plant.

In recent months, both countries have engaged in a series of discussions for investment opportunities in Bangladesh’s industry and energy sectors. 

During the Saudi-Bangladesh investment cooperation meeting in March this year, Dhaka proposed a $35 billion investment plan to a high-powered Saudi delegation led by Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, the Saudi commerce and investment minister, and Mohammed bin Mezyed Al-Tuwaijri, the Saudi economy and planning minister.

However, officials in Dhaka said that this was the first investment deal to be signed between the two countries.

“We have just inked the MoU for building the LNG-based power plant. Now, ACWA will conduct a feasibility study regarding the location of the plant, which is expected to be completed in the next six months,” Khaled Mahmood, chairman of BPDB, told Arab News.

He added that there are several locations in Moheshkhali, Chottogram and the Mongla port area for the proposed power plant.

“We need to find a suitable location where the drift of the river will be suitable for establishing the LNG plant and we need to also consider the suitability of establishing the transmission lines,” Mahmood said.

“It will be either a JV (Joint Venture) or an IPP (Independent Power Producer) mode of investment, which is yet to be determined. But, we are expecting that in next year the investment will start coming here,” Mahmood said.

BPDB expects to complete the set-up process of the power plant within 36 to 42 months.

“We are in close contact with ACWA and focusing on the successful completion of the project within the shortest possible time,” he said.

Abunayyan said that he was optimistic about the new investment deal.

“Bangladesh has been a model for the Muslim world in economic progress. This is our beginning, and our journey and our relationship will last for a long time,” Abunayyan told a gathering after the MoU signing ceremony.

Economists and experts in Bangladesh also welcomed the ACWA investment in the energy development sector.

“This sort of huge and long-term capital investment will create a lot of employment opportunities. On the other hand, it will facilitate other trade negotiations with the Middle Eastern countries, too,” Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told Arab News.

She added that Bangladesh needs to weigh the pros and cons before finalizing such contracts so that the country can earn the “maximum benefits” from the investment.

“It will also expedite other big investments in Bangladesh from different countries,” she said.

Another energy economist, Dr. Asadujjaman, said that Bangladesh needs to exercise caution while conducting the feasibility study for such a huge investment.

“We need to address the environmental aspects, opportunity costs and other economic perspectives while working with this type of big investment. Considering the present situation, the country also needs to focus on producing more solar energy,” Dr. Asadujjaman told Arab News.
 


Walmart’s Flipkart to spin off digital payments business

Updated 03 December 2020

Walmart’s Flipkart to spin off digital payments business

  • Flipkart will continue to be PhonePe’s majority shareholder
  • India’s digital payments market expected to more than double in size to $135 billion in 2023

NEW DELHI: Walmart-controlled Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart said on Thursday it was partially spinning off PhonePe to widen the digital payments platform’s access to capital to fuel its growth.
PhonePe, which competes with Alibaba-backed home-grown payments pioneer Paytm and Google Pay, will raise $700 million in primary capital, Bengaluru-based Flipkart said in a statement.
The money will be raised from existing Flipkart investors led by Walmart, giving PhonePe a valuation of $5.5 billion including the fundraising, the statement said.
Flipkart will continue to be PhonePe’s majority shareholder, it added.
“We are really excited to have access to dedicated long-term capital to further our ambitions in the financial services distribution sector as well as creating large innovative growth platforms for India’s micro, small and medium enterprises,” PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam said.
PhonePe is eyeing profitability by 2022 and a public listing the following year, Nigam has previously said.
The fintech firm has more than 100 million monthly active users which helped it clock nearly one billion digital payment transactions in October.
India’s digital payments market, expected to more than double in size to $135 billion in 2023 from 2019 levels, has also attracted the likes of Amazon.com and Facebook, which have come up with their own systems to woo users.
That rapid growth in fintech has driven India’s flagship payments processor, the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI), to cap the share of digital transactions some companies can account for.
The NPCI’s move, announced last month, is expected to hinder the growth of payments services offered by Facebook, Google and PhonePe, while boosting the likes of Reliance’s Jio Payments Bank and Paytm, which have niche bank licenses.