Vietnam has achieved the highest rural electrification rate in the world as a developing country, the Vietnam Economic News quoted the World Bank's assessment as saying on May 7.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang when addressing an online conference reviewing 15 years of rural electrification on April 26 said “Vietnam’s rural electrification has significantly grown over the last 15 years.”

Only 2.5 percent of households used electricity in 1975 while its figure increased to more than 98 percent in 2013. In particular, nearly 97 percent of rural households used electricity.

The power grid has been strongly invested and renovated. As a matter of fact, it has helped changing the appearances of rural and remote areas, creating favourable conditions for the development of agricultural production, processing industry and agricultural services. Agricultural production index increased by 6.6 times in the 1998-2013 period and average individual income increased by 8 times in the same period.

The rural electrification programme has been strongly developed. Together with investment capital from the state budget, donors have also actively contributed to bringing power to remote areas and improving the quality of rural low-tension power grid.

According to incomplete statistics, a total investment capital for the development and improvement of the rural power grid in the last 15 years reached 48.291 trillion VND. In particular, Red River Delta and north central coast provinces (excluding Hanoi) invested 17.169 trillion VND, followed by northern mountainous provinces, central provinces, Mekong Delta provinces, southeastern provinces, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

With the goal of bringing power to provinces in the Central Highlands, the Prime Minister asked the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) to implement the 1.3 trillion VND project on bringing power to remote villages in the Central Highlands in the 2006-2009 period. The EVN also implemented a number of projects such as bringing power to households in Kien Giang, Bac Lieu, Son La, Bac Kan and Lai Chau provinces.

Together with the goal of ensuring security and safety for islands and seas, a series of undersea power cable projects are being implemented to bring power to Co To Island, Phu Quoc Island and Ly Son Island.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said that the rural electrification programme has contributed 30-40 percent to socioeconomic development in rural areas, creating favourable conditions to change the structure of the rural economy and improve people’s living conditions.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai also said that challenges for the electricity sector in the implementation of the rural electrification programme in the time to come remain huge. As many as 91 communes throughout the country have not yet get access to electricity. With the goals of 98 percent and 100 percent of rural households having electricity by 2015 and 2020 respectively, the electricity sector needs to make greater efforts. In the near future, ministries, departments and local governments need to meet their objectives. In particular, a focus on ensuring technical conditions and improving quality of the rural power grid is needed.

To fulfill these objectives, Vietnam has urged international partners to take part in these projects in terms of capital, technology and management work.

The World Bank has closely cooperated with the Vietnamese government and EVN since 1995 and provided more than 4 billion USD in loans for power projects. In the 1998-2013 period, the World Bank funded about 12 projects related to the development of rural electrification with a total investment capital of more than 2 billion USD.

World Bank’s Country Director for Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa said that Vietnam's rural electrification programme was one of their most sucessful projects in Vietnam.-VNA