japan pakistanISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Japan on Tuesday signed bilateral grant-aid agreements for two projects aimed at supporting energy and education sectors worth $17.5 million to strengthen training facilities on power grid operations and to build around 25 girls’ schools in rural Sindh.

Secretary Economic Affairs Division Tariq Bajwa and Charge d’Affairs of Japan, Junya Matsuura signed the agreements on behalf of their respective governments.

In the power sector, the project for strengthening training centre on grid system operations and maintenance will support technical service group of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) to develop training courses with Japanese advanced and efficient technology by strengthening their training facilities including the installation of a training purpose simulator.

The project costing US$9 million will involve construction of grid training simulator building and installation of grid training simulator, protection relay system and spare parts. The project will formally start operation by February 2018 with the completion of building and installation of equipment.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has completed since 2011 the project for improvement of training capacity of grid system operations and maintenance in cooperation with the technical service group of NTDC, in which capacity building for trainers of grid system operators had been completed.

According to JICA Repres­entative in Pakistan, Kenji Ogasahara, the grant-aid project will bring about a synergy with outcome of the technical cooperation between the two countries.

Mr Ogasahara disclosed that feasibility study for Lakhra Coalfield project was in final stages of completion and will be shared with the ministry of water and power. The feasibility study would estimate the cost as well as pave the way for Japanese assistance to develop the project.

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SCHOOLS: The project for upgrading primary girls’ schools into elementary schools in northern rural Sindh costing US$8.65 million is the second phase of the ongoing project and will build around 25 elementary to middle schools for girls in the rural areas of northern Sindh consisting of Khairpur, Sukkur, Ghotki, Shikarpur, Larkana and Dadu to improve and expand girls’ access to middle education in rural areas of the province.

Under the first phase of the project, the Japanese government is currently constructing 29 schools in Hyderabad, Badin, Tando Allahyar, Jamshoro, Nawabshah and Mirpurkhas.

By 2021, it is anticipated that 2,028 students would have benefited from the project. This would be possible as there are several other primary schools in the catchment areas whose students will also join the upgraded elementary schools.