Lao PDR has undertaken a number of structural reforms that have fostered economic growth. The economy has expanded on average by 7.1 percent per year from 2001 to 2010, and is expected by the World Bank to grow by 7.6 percent per year in 2011-2015.
Like Switzerland in Europe it has a small population and a very significant hydropower potential of 26 GW. This potential is largely untapped, with only 3 GW capacity having been built. Whereas until a few years ago investing in the country was considered difficult, the start-up of the 1 070 MW Nam Theun 2 hydro power project has completely changed the economic prospects and perception of the country. The Nam Theun 2 project was built by a consortium owned 40% by EDF of France. Laos exports most of its power to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. However, an increasing proportion of its production is earmarked for its domestic market in order to foster growth in mining and Industry.