Egypt: Electricity Crisis Cannot Be Fixed Overnight – Sisi

Cairo — President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed the Thursday electricity blackout in a televised speech aired on state television on Saturday, saying that the electricity crisis cannot be fixed overnight.

Thursday’s power outage resulted from a technical malfunction causing the loss of 45 per cent of the national electricity grid’s capacity. This has led to blackouts across several parts of Egypt for long hours, angering citizens.

The president said he can “excuse” the people’s anger over the power outage, which lasted for almost six hours, yet stressed that “we all must be patient to face this.” He added that the people’s reaction affects the state’s management of the crisis.

“Electricity is a state utility which suffers like all other state utilities,” Sisi said. He added that the electricity crisis has not been addressed during the past years due to the lack of funding.

The president said Egypt needs 130 billion Egyptian pounds to produce an adequate amount of electricity. He said that the country needs to produce an extra amount of around 12,000 megawatt of electricity, worth of $ 12 billion, in the next five years.

The state is exerting efforts to attract foreign investors to invest in the electricity sector, Sisi said. He added that such investors need guarantees that the state will buy electricity at the free market’s price to make the investment worthwhile.

The president also addressed the media coverage of the electricity crisis. He called on the media to be “aware” of the problems it is covering.

“We are fighting in a battle for existence which started years ago to destroy this country,” Sisi said, adding that there are those who are trying to worsen the electricity crisis. “This will not be swift or easy; it will take time and effort.”

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb had said in August that over 300 acts of vandalising electric pylons have been reported throughout July. The prime minister promised new legislations imposing harsher sanctions for such acts of vandalism.

Sisi said a committee of experts was formed to look into the causes behind Thursday’s power outage. He said the report revealing the committee’s findings will be released upon its issuance.

On Friday, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said that up to 90% of the capacity of the national electric grid has been restored, promising full capacity restoration earlier on Friday.

Most governorates suffer blackouts almost on a daily basis for a period of one to two hours, due to the government’s inability to secure gas for generating electricity.

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