Rakhmon’s bulb, or Tajikistan’s bright future




October 20, 2009



DUSHANBE, Deutsche Welle -- While the debate about country’s transition to energy-saving lamps is still in process, the authorities are introducing new lamps with voluntary, coercive and sometimes very curious measures. Switching to energy-saving lamps had been approved by the Decree of the President of Tajikistan, issued in April, 2009. All organizations and enterprises in Tajikistan had to switch to the newly introduced light bulbs until the end of the year. The decree did not address ordinary citizens.


Energy saving: reality or myth?

Emomali Rakhmon, and officials of various ranks have repeatedly stated that the full transition to energy-saving bulbs could save the country up to three and a half billion kilowatt - hours of electricity per year. However, independent experts believe that such figures are far from reality. Sukhrob Burkhanov, an electrical engineer who has worked in the energy sector of
Tajikistan for many years, believes that given the percentage of consumed electricity, savings can be very small.

“The President said that we will save 3,5 billion kWh of electricity, but according to the statistics, the lighting cost do not exceed 5%-7% of total energy consumption. It turns out that real savings in lighting will reach 250-350 million kWh in the most intense periods, when there is shortage of electricity,” Burkhanov said.

Burkhanov considers this figure to be unlikely to help alleviate the winter power deficit of over 4 billion kWh. but would place a heavy burden on the Tajik people, given the high cost of new lighting bulbs.


Forced charity

In the holy month of Ramadan, the President made a first step by presenting low-income families with eight bulbs each. Top officials, especially authorities in northern
Tajikistan immediately followed the president’s example. Deputies, businessmen, and representatives of clergy collected funds for the purchase of energy-saving lamps for subsequent distribution to needy families. About fifteen thousand modern lamps were purchase with this method. However, as one of the local officials noted, not all became philanthropists willingly; some were voluntarily-coerced.

Hajj is impossible without bulbs

Those who are willing to perform the hajj did not remain aloof either. According to Firuza Karimova, a resident of Khudjant her mother found out that in addition to current expenditures she will have to buy energy saving light bulbs when she arrived to the city mayor’s office.

"My mother was told to buy one hundred energy saving light bulbs for subsequent distribution to needy families, and this is an obligatory condition,” says Karimova.


Mayor of Khudjand threatens to shut off electricity

Electricity is turned off completely in the houses of those who evaded the usage of energy saving bulbs. Recently, Mayor of Khudjant made a statement about these measures, without questioning the legality of such actions. A few days later, the electricity was switched off in two apartment houses in micro-districts.

The authorities use legal nihilism of the population

Shokirdzhon Khakimov, a member of the
Tajikistan’s Legal Consortium states that the local authorities are using low level of legal consciousness of consumers and are depriving their right to use regular light bulbs.

Recently the Mayor of Khudjand reported that more than 95% of regular light bulbs were replaced with new light bulbs. According to official figures, more than one million two hundred thousand energy-saving light-bulbs were brought into the country since the beginning of the year.