BISHKEK -- Three Central Asian countries are teaming up to build a dam and hydropower station in Naryn province, Kyrgyzstan.
On January 6 in Bishkek, the energy ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan signed a "roadmap" agreement to build the Kambarata-1 dam and power station, as reported by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)'s Kyrgyz service January 8. The site is on the Naryn river.
Preparations for building the complex already have started, said Kyrgyz Energy Minister Taalaibek Ibrayev at the event.
"The construction of the Kambarata-1 hydropower plant definitely benefits all three neighbour states, especially Kyrgyzstan," he said. "Kyrgyzstan needs to become a country that doesn't import electricity but rather exports it."
"If we work with our neighbours to build Kambarata-1, the significant electricity shortage in our country will be erased," he added.
Preparations are under way to build roads, bridges, power lines and construction staging areas, he said.
The Kambarata-1 project has a long history of delay and disappointment.
Russia, which traditionally built infrastructure in the former Soviet republics, has repeatedly backed away from Kambarata-1.
Construction began at the site in 1986 but halted in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, according to The Diplomat website.
In 2008, Russia returned to the project.
It accomplished little before plummeting oil prices in 2015 caused it to quit again, according to Reuters at the time.
After years of idleness at the site, Kyrgyzstan began limited construction at Kambarata-1 last summer.
The ambitious project will not be cheap.
"The roadmap lays out the work procedure," Kyrgyz Deputy Energy Minister Mirlan Zhakypov told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service.
"It was signed for the purpose of conducting a feasibility study and setting the procedures for issuing tenders and their conditions and deadlines. If the feasibility study is completed in 2024, we'll start building."
The agreement stipulates the creation of a joint venture owned by Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
After completion of the power station, Kyrgyzstan will own 34% of it, while Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will have 33% each, according to Zhakypov.
Construction will cost $4 billion to $5 billion, analysts estimate. Details of the countries' investments in the project are not yet public.
The project will include the construction of a dam, estimated to have a height of 256 metres, and a power plant with installed capacity of 1,860MW, according to The Diplomat.
Kambarata-1 will not produce any electricity any earlier than 2028, it said.