The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a $300m loan agreement with the Government of Pakistan to finance the construction of the Balakot hydropower plant.

The agreement was signed by ADB acting country director Cleo Kawawaki and Pakistan Secretary of the Economic Affairs Division Noor Ahmed.

The 300MW plant is located in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

ADB Central and West Asia director-general Yevgeniy Zhukov said: “As Pakistan’s largest development partner in the energy sector, the ADB has been supporting Pakistan as it aims to build its renewable energy resources and cut its heavy dependence on fossil fuels.

“The Balakot hydropower project will play an important role in helping to advance this objective. ADB will continue to support Pakistan to diversify its energy sources, implement critical reforms, increase energy security and grow the share of clean power in its energy mix.”

During the construction phase, the hydropower project will create more than 1,200 jobs, 40% of which will hire locally.

The project, expected to come online by 2027, will help the country meet future demand for clean and affordable energy while generating revenue for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

As well as generating economic activity, the project will improve the skills of local communities.

In March 2018, the ADB signed an agreement with the Government of Pakistan to offer a $260m loan to help improve the country’s power transmission network.

The deal was part of the Second Power Transmission Enhancement Investment Programme, which aimed to improve the coverage, reliability, transparency and quality of Pakistan’s power transmission service.

The loan was used to expand the 220kV transmission network in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, as well as upgrading supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and revenue metering systems (RMS) in the country.