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Bangladesh expects a $1 billion solar project with Saudi energy giant ACWA Power to begin generating power within the next year, according to a state minister, as the two countries work to strengthen their energy cooperation.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bangladesh Power Development Board and ACWA Power

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh signed cooperation agreements and formed a joint business council as a high-level delegation led by Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi visited Dhaka to attend the Bangladesh Business Summit 2023.

The two countries have been discussing ways to expand cooperation in power, agriculture, and logistics, including a joint venture between the Bangladesh Power Development Board and Saudi energy developer ACWA Power to build a solar power plant in Bangladesh. Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding about a month ago, officials are now conducting additional studies for the 1,000 MW project, according to Bangladesh’s State Minister for Energy and Power Nasrul Hamid.

“A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bangladesh Power Development Board and ACWA Power. It will be a $1 billion investment, according to Hamid. “It will be a type of foreign direct investment in Bangladesh. We hope to have power from these solar panels within a year. Bangladeshi officials are also in discussions with Saudi counterparts about importing LNG and finished oil from the Kingdom,” he added.

Bangladeshi officials are optimistic about increased bilateral cooperation with the expected visit later this year of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has reportedly accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. “We believe that during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s proposed visit, some significant opportunities for enhancing further cooperation between the countries will be created,” Hamid said.

On Saturday, Al-Qasabi stated that his visit to Dhaka was intended to increase bilateral trade, which currently stands at around $970 million. Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh signed agreements to establish a fertilizer factory and agro-processing plant, which was welcomed by energy expert Dr. Ijaz Hossain.

“At one time (in) Bangladesh we had cheap gas, but no longer. “So we have to think of these kinds of solutions because we need fertilizer, and there is no substitute for that,” said Hossain, a professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, to Arab News. “That is a very good project, and Bangladesh should focus on it and see that it is implemented.”

First published on: 12 Mar 2023, 22:02 IST

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