Solution on power outages

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 26 Jun 2024

The government mobilised this week to find a solution to Egypt’s recurring power outages.

Solution on power outages


Following an urgent meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli announced in a press conference that the government is fully aware that there is “an electricity crisis” and that all concerned ministries are doing their best to find a solution to it at the nearest possible moment.

“Upon the directives of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the government is working hard to cut down the power outage hours and find a solution to the electricity crisis as soon as possible,” Madbouli said.

Much of Egypt has been suffering from power outages since last year on the back of hard-currency shortages affecting fuel imports for power stations. With the advent of summer and increased electricity usage, the outages have become more frequent.

Madbouli said that he had given instructions to the ministers of electricity, oil, and finance to develop plans to overcome the electricity crisis over the summer.

“To achieve this objective, we will need $1.8 billion to import the gas and mazut needed to operate the power plants and stop the load-shedding that has been taking place,” he said.

However, he indicated that the three-hour load-shedding plans will continue until 1 July. “In the first two weeks of July, the power outages will be cut down to two hours, and by the third week of July and after the arrival of the imported gas and mazut we will be able to stop all the power outages and load-shedding plans throughout the summer,” he added.

The decision to extend the power outages to three hours was due to a sudden halt in gas supplies from a neighbouring country, Madbouli said, which he did not name.

“As you know, we have stopped exporting gas, and we now depend on imports from neighbouring countries to meet our growing needs,” he said.

The three heat waves that have hit Egypt in June have made conditions worse in the last few days.

“This led our electricity consumption to reach a peak of 36 Gigawatts per day,” Madbouli said, adding that as a result the Ministry of Petroleum had urgently asked to import 300,000 tons of mazut at a cost of $180 million to increase the strategic reserves in order to be able to meet demand.

In order to stop the power outages and load-shedding altogether this summer, Madbouli said, $1 billion is needed to import gas and mazut to operate the country’s power stations and guarantee that everyone is able to access uninterrupted electricity.

“Until conditions begin to stabilise in the third week of July, I urge people to rationalise their electricity consumption,” Madbouli said. Starting from next week, all shops will be required to close at 10pm, except supermarkets, pharmacies, and restaurants, which will close at 1am.

Madbouli said the government is working hard to solve the electricity crisis to put the economy back on track to stimulate investment and production. “Let me again extend my government’s apology to the Egyptian people for the electricity crisis, which has caused a lot of suffering for citizens and households,” he concluded.

On Monday, the electricity and petroleum ministries issued a surprise joint apology for extending load-shedding for an extra hour until the end of the week instead of on Sunday and Monday only as previously announced.

The ministries explained that given the continuing high temperatures that have hit Egypt and other countries in the region over the past few days, it had been necessary to extend load-shedding plans for “an extra hour” to three hours instead of two until the end of this week to maintain the safe and stable operation of the network.

At the same time, the ministries added, urgent measures have been taken to import additional shipments of gas and mazut to meet increased consumption amid the ongoing heat wave.

The apology drew critical comments from TV talk shows and an MP on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Some TV presenters said that the public was frustrated as the extended power outages had come only a few days after Madbouli had promised that the ministries would work on a plan to stop the load-shedding by November or December 2024.

One TV show, Al-Hekaya, raised fears that the electricity crisis could worsen as temperatures continue to rise above 40 degrees Celsius in Cairo and other parts of Egypt and gas shortages persist.

Ahmed Al-Taheri, editor of the Rose Al-Youssef magazine, told Extra News Channel that people’s frustration at the power cuts was justified and that everybody has a right to uninterrupted electricity.

What had made many people suffer more from the crisis was the fact that it had come while thousands of students were studying to pass their Thanawiya Amma high-school exams, he said.

On Tuesday, a number of opposition MPs teamed up to direct questions to the government on the electricity crisis.

Diaaeddin Dawoud, a leftist MP, accused the government of failing to find credible solutions to the crisis. “In spite of this failure, the prime minister was reappointed to form a new government against the wishes of many Egyptians,” Dawoud said.

Ihab Mansour, spokesperson of the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party, said that the prolonged blackouts were putting the lives and businesses of millions of people at risk.

In response, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaaeddin Fouad said that Madbouli’s plan for solving the electricity crisis would take effect soon and would put an end to the suffering by the end of next month.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 27 June, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: