Lebanese experts urge immediate reform of the electricity sector

Lebanese experts urge immediate reform of the electricity sector
Electricity cables are seen in Tyre, Lebanon July 18, 2020. Picture taken July 18, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo

BEIRUT – Lebanese experts and officials urge for immediate reform of the country’s electricity sector which costs the state’s treasury around 1.5 – 2 billion U.S. dollars annually while failing to secure sufficient power generation.

“The energy ministry must work immediately to reduce its expenses, increase revenues, and explore other methods for power generation including solar energy, so as to solve the chronic crisis of electricity in Lebanon,” Patrick Mardini, president of Lebanese Institute for Market Studies, told Xinhua.

Mardini’s remarks came days after Lebanese Caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar warned the country would plunge into total darkness at the end of the month if no money was secured to buy fuel for power stations.

Ghajar asked for 1 billion U.S. dollars to purchase fuel and operate the country’s power plants. On Tuesday, the parliament approved 200 million dollars for the energy ministry to secure part of the fuel amid objections by some political parties.

The electricity sector costs Lebanon around 40 percent of the 95.6 billion U.S. dollars of its public debt since 1990.

Lebanon needs to produce a total of 3,562 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to cover the whole country for 24 hours while it currently produces 2,334 MWh, including 400 MWh from two floating Turkish power plants at a cost of around 200 million U.S. dollars annually.

Power generation today stands at 12 hours a day ( at best , some areas get 2 hours a day ) and people resort to using private generators to secure electricity for the rest of the day.