Cambodia Needs to Increase the Transparency of Key Infrastructure Projects

The Tatay River Hydropower Dam in southwestern Cambodia has become a case study in how not to do things.

A decade ago, Cambodia relied heavily on neighboring states for its electricity supply. However, the kingdom’s domestic power generation capacity has increased twelve-fold over the last fifteen years, with hydropower representing 41 percent of total energy generation in 2020, representing Cambodia’s second-largest source of power

But as this segment of the energy sector grows, a lack of transparency in major projects has resulted in confusion and criticism. One such project is the Tatay River Hydropower Dam, a 246-megawatt (MW) project located in Koh Kong Province in southwestern Cambodia.

Construction on the Tatay project began in 2010 under a 42-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement between Cambodia and Cambodian Tatay Hydropower Ltd. (CTHL), facilitated by a $540 million loan from the China Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank). Even though Chinese investment in the country’s infrastructure is generally useful in filling the funding gap in these areas, Cambodia needs to increase the transparency in the development and implementation of projects funded by Beijing.

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