Cairo – Egypt says it has plans to become an electrical power-sharing center, with local electricity production covering consumption and leaving enough of a surplus to trade with other countries.
“Our focus is now on increasing the efficiency of local electricity plants on the road to increasing electricity-sharing with other countries,” said Ayman Hamza, the official spokesman of the Ministry of Electricity, the state body that oversees the production and distribution of electricity nationwide.
The electrical power-sharing plan is yet a new milestone for Egypt, which in the course of the past five years has succeeded in moving from electricity shortages to self-sufficiency and then overproduction. Egypt produced a little less than 30,000 megawatts of electricity five years ago, which was far from enough to light the houses of the nation and power work in its factories and farmland.
This was why electricity outages were very common, a problem which the governments that took over in the country of over 100 million people inherited from the Hosni Mubarak government which ruled for three decades before 2011. It took the current Egyptian administration tens of billions of dollars in investments, poured into the construction of huge electricity plants in different parts of this country, to end the shortages. The new electricity plants infused more than 28,000 megawatts of electricity into the national grid, raising the annual national production to around 58,000 megawatts. This production covers consumption, even during peak times. Egypt also has enough of an electricity surplus to share with other countries.
The first stage of electricity sharing has already started with neighboring countries, Hamza said. Egypt shares 450 megawatts of electricity with Jordan and 150 megawatts with Libya, he added. Egypt and Sudan have also cooperated in establishing the infrastructure necessary for electricity-sharing between them. According to Hamza, the infrastructure has already been completed and the project waits for operational approval once political conditions stabilize in Sudan where a popular uprising has just ended the 30-year-rule of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are also expected to start electricity interconnection in the coming months, having finalized work on the infrastructure necessary in this regard.
The plan for turning Egypt into an electrical power-sharing center is a small detail in the overall picture of Egypt’s economic rise. Egypt has been working hard to reform its economy, improve services for its people and end decades-old problems, including endemic diseases, such as hepatitis C, and its efforts are paying off. The economy is being put back on track after the devastation that followed the 2011 uprising against longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. Gigantic construction and service projects are being established in different areas in this populous country and thousands of people are being treated of hepatitis C for free. Egypt also strives to turn into a hepatitis C treatment center in the African and Arab regions in the coming years.
Egypt is also working to become an East Mediterranean energy hub, with more natural gas discoveries being made and Cairo hammering out deals for processing gas produced in other regional production states, including Israel and Cyprus, and then exporting it to the international market.
Apart from producing enough electricity from its factories, Egypt has also been implementing a plan to increase the contribution of renewable energies to electricity production to 20% by 2022, from less than 5% at present, and then to 37% by 2035.
Independent energy expert Mohamed al-Senousi said the work done in Egypt in the past five years qualifies it to become a major electricity-sharing and trade center. “The new electricity plants have opened the door for the presence of multiple energy production sources,” al-Senousi said. “This production gives Egypt the chance to export electrical power to other states, including in Europe.”