Egypt’s Prime Minister, Hesham Qandil, has explained to frustrated Egyptians the reasons behind the frequent power outages that have swept the country in a press conference on Friday night, according to state-run Egy-News. It was the first time an official has explained the electricity issue publically.
More electricity cuts are expected in the upcoming period and Qandil called on people to limit their electricity usage.
A hotline has been created to receive people’s complaints and Qandil has given instructions to electricity providers to ensure equity in power outages among all neighbourhoods, according to Egy-News.
The conference came after the electricity crisis reached a peak on Thursday when parts of Greater Cairo were hit with power cuts which shut down the subway system and the stock exchange.
The power outages have sparked extreme frustration among Egyptians, some of whom have to spend hours without electricity daily and are forced to bear the summer heat without air conditioning.
According to Qandil, Egypt has had a 10 percent deficit in electricity sector for the past three years. While Egypt has the capacity to produce up to 28,000 megawatts of electricity, the country currently only produces 23,000 to 24,000 megawatts due to various reasons including fuel shortages and decrease in production by some power plants, Qandil said.
In objection to the power cuts and mounting garbage piles, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SAPP) earlier launched the “we are not paying” campaign.
Power cuts are normal during summers in Egypt and it is not the only Arab country suffering from power shortages.
There have been power shortages in Lebanon over the past three months, according to the Lebanese Daily Star. Similarly, Iraq suffers from power outages with electricity provided for only a few hours a day, according to AFP.
Over 350,000 homes lost power in Algeria last weekend, according to the Algerian El-Bilad newspaper. According to Al Jazeera, Algerians took to the streets in objection to the power cuts which have lasted over four days in some regions.
Yemenis started Ramadan with protests over power cuts which had extended to days and even weeks in some regions, the Yemeni Al-Hadath newspaper reported. According to the Yemeni Times, many people are refusing to pay electricity and water bills in objection to the poor services.
The Gaza Strip, under blockade for years, faces fuel shortages at their primary power plant which has led to power cuts stretching to as many as eight hours a day.
Qandil gave assurances that Egypt does not export electricity, except for a small amount to Gaza with the expenses covered by the Arab League, according to Egy-News.
The Prime Minister did not rule out the possibility of relying on nuclear energy in the future.