07 Oct Wealth of natural resources
The country’s traditional engine of growth has been its vast reserve of natural resources — electricity, agriculture and forestry, and minerals among others. Laos is, in fact, a major exporter of electricity with about two thirds of electricity generated exported to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, where demand continues to rise.
Harnessing the energy from its 10 operational hydropower dams is helping realize the “Battery of ASEAN” vision through the key NT2 and the EDL-GE Projects. Leveraging on growing need for energy, Lao PDR also plans to boost its hydropower from the current installed capacity of 6,000 MW to 12,000 MW by 2020, and double this figure by 2030.
Another sector that has supported growth and employs a substantial portion of the population is agriculture which contributed 29% of the country’s GDP in 2017 and employed 75% of the population. The country has potential to increase exports of quality, high value-added agricultural products. For example, coffee is Lao’s oldest and leading export, with revenues amounting to US$74 M p.a. and is steadily gaining worldwide prominence. The government is also promoting products that move up the value chain through processing and entering niche, high value markets such as organic and fair-trade produce.