May 9 (UPI) -- The government in Myanmar said it aims to draw in more investments to off-grid and renewable energy projects to power the entire country.
The government has a goal of delivering power across the entire country. Only about 30 percent of the country's rural population has access to a reliable source of energy and the government needs to build up the grid for 40,000 villages to meet its goal.
With Myanmar evolving politically and economically after years of strict military leadership, Aung Thu, the country's minister for agriculture, said at a forum at the nation's capital that electricity could fuel development.
"Having electricity access can create more job opportunities and, consequently, increase family income," he said in his opening remarks. "That's why the government is setting up high priorities and striving to provide universal access to electricity by 2030."
In April, Myanmar received a $200 million credit from the World Bank to help promote the country's financial strength. The nation's economy suffered in 2016 and, although growth is expected in the coming years, the World Bank said assistance was necessary to offset the strains of poverty.
Growth in gross domestic product is strong, though a double-digit rate of inflation is expected to create headwinds for Myanmar's growth. Foreign investments, meanwhile, are necessary to advance much-needed developments in the expanding energy sector.
Sanctions pressures on Myanmar eased after the 2010 elections, giving foreign investors more opportunities in the once-isolated country.
Outside of direct grid issues, Myanmar could emerge as a regional natural gas producer. One year ago, Australian energy company Woodside said it increased its best estimate of the contingent reserve potential offshore Myanmar by 83 million barrels of oil equivalent following the technical evaluation of two exploration wells drilled in the area.
In a presentation to investors, the company said Myanmar was a central part of its plans to deliver 2.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent in growth projects over the next decade. As one of the earlier players in offshore Myanmar, the company said it has a "commanding strategic advantage."