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 relied on the hydropower stations of Dokan and Derbandikhan in Sulaymaniyah governorate for their power supply while Dohuk had no power supply 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.

The electricity sector of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has significantly improved. In 2013, it had reached more than 20 hours supply and brought in private sector investments. 

Our response

With projects worth $450 million dollars US in total, UNDP has supported the reconstruction of the Iraqi electricity sector since the mid-1990s, through its Electricity Network Rehabilitation Programme, which started in 1997.

In 2008, the regional government entered into a loan agreement of ¥14,747 million ($11,4 million dollars US) with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to fund the reconstruction of the electricity sector. UNDP had backed the regional government in a loan management preparatory phase since 2007.

Ever since, UNDP provided to the Ministry of Electricity in Kurdistan technical assistance for the installation of mobile substations in the three governorates, and building a substation and double circuit transmission line in Sulaymaniyah.

Extended on 2 July 2015 until March 2018, the partnership will require UNDP to play a pivotal role in updating the region’s distribution master plan (2013-2023) and strengthening the institutional capacity of the regional government by establishing a training centre in Erbil.

This most recent agreement also includes the construction of a transmission line in Halabja, in order to provide electricity to a critically needed water intake and water treatment facility in the eastern city of Sulaymaniyah governorate.

What have we accomplished so far?

The 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 Dcoument

Download the project document.

On YouTube

Watch on YouTube how UNDP helped improve the electricity distribution network in Kurdistan.