Power cuts that stopped for weeks immediately after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi are once again affecting all governorates, raising concerns of a deteriorating situation.
For the last two years Cairo experienced frequent power outages due to fuel shortages. Blackouts are expected to continue during the summer as the national electricity network is predicted to be overloaded by around 2,500 megawatts on peak days.
Fuel shortage and over-consumption
“The fuel crisis was not finally resolved,” said a senior source in Ministry of Electricity (MoE).
The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, emphasised the country is still suffering a fuel shortfall which was partially resolved recently thanks to shipments of fuel from Gulf States.
Gulf States pledged $12bn in aid, $3bn from the United Arab Emirates, $4bn from Kuwait and $5bn from Saudi Arabia, in form of cash grants, deposits and petroleum products.
“Recently, the weather is scorching and temperatures are very high, which led to a rise in consumption, especially in the peak hours, resulting in stoppage of the electrical grid to guarantee safety,” the source said.
In response, the National Energy Control Centre (NECC) released a report last Monday saying the peak load of electricity recorded 26,100 megawatts, which overwhelmed the daily capacity of the network grid, state-run MENA reported.
Minister of Electricity Ahmed Imam attributed these high indices to the rise in temperatures and increased consumption that exceeded the normal capacity of electrical grids.
“Due to limited fuel quantities NECC resorted to ease the loads to maintain the integrity of the electrical grid,” said Imam.
The electricity sector called on people to avoid, as much as possible, turning on “heaters, air conditioners, electric appliances and to sparingly use light bulbs.”
Power loads is not rationed in hospitals, water and sanitation stations, police, civil defence offices, metro stations, bakeries, mills and important governmental buildings. Despite that, Cairo’s second metro line witnessed a 10-minute blackout last Tuesday, forcing passengers to open the carriage doors and walk to the nearest station.
Pre- and post-Morsi
Blackouts are more frequent this summer, but after Morsi’s ouster the situation improved, raising questions about whether the crisis was intentionally created and politicised.
“Ahead of the ouster of Morsi, the weather was hot and consumption hit an alarming rate, and there was a palpable fuel crisis, but during the 30 June revolution most of the population took to streets and consumption decreased,” a source said.
Governmental measures to resolve the crisis
The MoE had agreed with the former cabinet to ration the lighting of street lamps and governmental buildings, in addition to using energy saving bulbs.
Moreover, the ministry reached an agreement with the Arab Organization for Industrialisation to not import electrical devices that consume much power.
“The MoE launched an initiative to build a solar energy panel on its roof to save additional energy,” the source said.
The source emphasised the government’s strategy to ration electricity is still ongoing, while “ministries strategies are not changeable as ministers reshuffle” during changes in the government.
We are trying to use the media as a tool to urge people to use energy sparingly, he added.
Could the crisis worsen?
“In case of the exacerbation of the fuel shortage, the crisis may worsen even more,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the source asserted the government will try to avoid the severe crisis that prevailed during Morsi’s rule.