Reconstruction of the Kurdistan Region's Electricity Sector

Project Summary

Electricity rehabilitation in northern Iraq © UNDP Iraq/2014

As a result of the First Gulf War in 1991 and the ensuing internal conflicts, the electricity supply system in the three northern governorates suffered severe damage (e.g. several distribution and transmission lines were put out of commission, many substations were destroyed, power station were ruined by explosives).

In 1994, the governorates of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah had been cut off from the national grid and Erbil and Sulaymaniyah had to rely on the hydropower stations of Dokan and Derbandikhan in the Sulaymaniyah governorate for their power supply (Dohuk had no power supply at all for almost one year).

By early 1998, the electricity generation, substations and transmission and distribution systems became very weak and power cuts of up to about 5 hours were a regular practice. In certain areas, electricity supply was limited to 3 to 5 hours daily, further reduced to about one hour per day or no supply in some areas. To address these challenges, the Ministry of Electricity in Kurdistan has been making significant improvements in the electricity sector. In 2013, it has reached more than 20 hours supply. However, due to the large influx of people from Syria and other areas of Iraq, the electricity sector again faces a lot of challenges.

Meanwhile significant improvements were made in the electricity sector. In 2013, the Kurdistan Region started entrusting generation capacity by the private sector through IPP, with the transmission and distribution sectors under the ministry's responsibility. The Ministry of Electricity then made more efforts in improving these sectors for efficient and stable electricity supply.

UNDP has supported the Iraqi electricity sector through the implementation of major projects since the mid-1990s. The most notable one is the Electricity Network Rehabilitation Programme (ENRP) which started in 1997. UNDP implemented approximately US$450 million worth of projects in electricity generation, transmission, substations and distribution sectors.

Moreover, UNDP's Loan Management Preparatory Project of 2007-2008, based on a Partnership Agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), successfully assisted in the equipment procurement and enhancement of RMEK staff capacity.

In this project, the existing specification standards were reviewed and comprehensive technical specifications reflecting international best practices were prepared. This was essential for organizing international competitive bidding. In 2008, the Regional Ministry of Electricty entered in a loan agreement with JICA to improve the transmission and distribution sector (14,747 million Japanese Yen).

Through these experiences, UNDP has been best placed to support the improvement in the electricity sector. Ever since the Ministry of Electricity has been making significant improvements in the electricity sector. In 2013, it has is bringing the private sector investments in the generation sector, UNDP’s technical assistance focuses on the transmission and distribution sectors under the JICA loan.

The Ministry of Electricity and UNDP reached the cost sharing agreement on 17 November 2008 for UNDP’s technical assistance to the Ministry of Electricity in the framework of the Electricity Sector Reconstruction Project in Kurdistan Region. The agreement was amended on 23 April 2013 for continuation of UNDP’s technical assistance by March 2016.

What have we accomplished so far?

The Regional Ministry of Electricity in Kurdistan and UNDP successfully procured the below items, which are either installed or used for operation and maintenance.

  1. Testing equipment
  2. Mobile substations, which contributed to the stable electricity supply in the newly developed or remote areas: Erbil, four 132/11.5 kV mobile substations and one 33/11.5KV mobile substation; Dohuk, one 132/11.5kV mobile substation and three 33/11.5 kV mobile substations; Sulaymaniyah, one 132/33KV mobile substation, one 132/11.5 KV mobile substation and three 33/11.5 KV mobile substations    
  3. Distribution equipment which contributed 1% reduction of technical losses (12 to 11 %) in the distribution network: transformers; kiosk substations; low voltage (400V) distribution cabinets; moulded case circuit breakers; load break switches
  4. 132/33/11kV substation in Chwarta in Sulaymaniyah and associated 132 kV double circuit transmission constructed in 2014, which contributed to improving the transmission capacity between Chwarta and Azmar substations and stable supply of electricity to around 100,000 people living in Chwarta and its surrounding areas 
  5. 10-year distribution master plan (2013-2023) for the three governorates of Kurdistan 

Funding information

Partner Agency Amount in US$
Ministry of Electricity of the Kurdistan Region


Japan (2015) 1,473,405    


Project Duration
Geographic Coverage
Kurdistan Region
Focus Areas
Poverty Reduction, Environment and Energy
MDG 1, 7, 8
Project officer
Shigeru Handa
Kurdistan Regional Ministry of Electricity, Prime Minister’s Advisory Commission, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Finance, Japan
Related Documents
Project Document