Solar Power (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's largest bank has agreed to fund luxury hotels in South Sinai and the Red Sea province that aim to "go green," as the country is gripped by increasingly frequent power cuts that threaten to cause further harm to the tourism industry.
In a protocol signed on Monday between the National Bank of Egypt, the Egyptian Hotel Association and the Solar Energy Development Association (SEDA), the bank pledged to extend loans to establishments wishing to convert to renewable energy, at an average interest rate of 2 percent.
The bank has not disclosed the budget allocated for the scheme.
Increased electricity use during the summer, combined with diesel shortages has led to a spate of increasingly frequent blackouts nationwide as the government struggles to provide fuel to keep up with the mounting consumption.
In April, then Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal said Egypt planned to import additional fuel quantities worth between $500 - $600 million to meet rising electricity demand from May to October.
But power cuts have persisted, despite Egypt's electricity ministry's claim last month that it had allocated an additional 7 million cubic metres of natural gas and an extra 5 thousand tonnes of diesel a day to power the nation's generators.
Egypt has around 220 electricity generators nationwide, which consume roughly 100 million cubic metres of fuel on a daily basis, according to a recent statement by Electricity Minister Ahmed Emam.
Hotels were encouraged to change to renewables to avoid fuel-driven power outages at the meeting on Monday.
Haitham Nassar, General Manager of Cairo's Ramses Hilton hotel, explained how a luxury downtown Cairo establishment has successfully made the switch to solar energy.
Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou estimated that the scheme, once extended, would be particularly beneficial for Upper Egypt's Nile Cruise Ships, whose electricity bills reached LE1 billion in 2010. According to Zazou, resorting to renewable energy would cut power costs by as much as 30 percent.