The Asian Development Bank has lent Indonesia $96 million to improve electricity systems in eleven regions.

The power project will provide electricity to 500,000 homes in 40 towns. The Power XIX project will also seek to improve the quality of Indonesia's existing electricity system by reducing energy losses in power supply centers.

The cost of the project is estimated at $189 million and the ADB loan will cover most of the foreign exchange cost. ADB has made 18 loans, amounting to $647 million, to Indonesia for power sector projects in the past. Work on this project is scheduled to begin this year, and be completed in within five years.

The Asian Development Bank has also approved a technical assistance grant to China to help prepare a project to expand and modernize an iron and steel mill in Shandong Province.

The Lai-Wu Iron and Steel Mill, built in the early 1970s, has played an important role in the development of the Shandong Province. It has a ready domestic market, easy access to raw materials and a well-trained staff.

The grant will help Lai-Wu realize the potential of its natural advantages by introducing new technology and modern management practices to the mill. Consultants will show workers how to employ continuous casting and rolling operations, how to use exhaust gases from coke ovens, blast furnaces and converters, and how to expand production facilities.

Lai-Wu hopes to more than double its annual steel production as a result of the project.

Earlier surveys have confirmed China's comparative advantage in steel production. The country has an abundance of good quality coal and ore, a large pool of skilled workers and strong domestic demand.