Despite government promises, over a week ago, that pervasive power cuts hitting the country since the start of the fasting month of Ramadan would be brought to an end within 48 hours, Thursday morning saw one the most serious power cuts yet.
Lasting for two hours, it spread out throughout the country, affecting the underground Metro, hospitals and even the Cairo Stock Exchange.
Shortages in gas and diesel led to a malfunction in the second circuit power plant at El-Asher Men Ramadan, leading to the shut down in different areas in Cairo and other governorates, official sources told the press.
Cairo's Metro was completely paralysed for the two hours, from 9.15am. Backup electricity generators were insufficient to replace lost energy. Many Metro riders had to walk on the Metro tracks, trying to reach their destinations by foot.
The power cuts hitting Egypt for the past few weeks have caused much public anger. The frequency and duration of cuts is increasing. Almost no governorate or neighbourhood has been spared. However, the duration of the cuts seems to be longer in remote governorates, compared to Cairo, and also longer in poorer districts as compared to more prosperous areas.
President Mohamed Morsi apologised for the problem Friday afternoon in a speech he gave in Qena, Upper Egypt, after Friday prayers. "There are cuts in electrical power and in water in some places. I apologise to you all for this defect and I am working on it day and night. I hope we will give the new government the chance to address the drawbacks, and it will be solved in days if not hours," he told his audience.
In the summer heat, and during Ramadan, the effect of power losses is damaging for many people. Blackouts have also harmed industries and businesses; factories experienced substantial losses, especially metals and aluminum factories.
We also apologise for Ahram news websites — both English and Arabic language — being offline for two hours after server problems due to power failures.