By Farah Atia
The World Bank says it has approved a $585.4m loan to finance Egypt’s Helwan South Plant Project, a new gas-fired power plant that will contribute up to 10%to new electricity generation nationwide.
“The plant is to be added by 2018 and will help deliver a more reliable supply of electricity to the economy,” a World Bank press release said.
“The World Bank is committed to helping Egypt rebuild public confidence in the power sector by supporting critical investments like Helwan South,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region.
Electricity demand in Egypt increases every year, but power generation has failed to keep pace with that growth, a report by the American Chamber of Commerce stated. It added that reducing factories’ dependence on the electricity grid might be made easier by the fact that many of Egypt’s critical industrial processes run on primary fuels, including diesel, mazut or natural gas, rather than electricity. These fuels, however, are in scarce supply.
According to the World Bank press release, Egypt’s rapid population growth, expansion of energy-intensive industries, and the use of electrical household appliances particularly air conditioning, has significantly added to its electricity demand. “Investments have not kept up with the annual 6% growth in demand and there have been rolling blackouts and service interruptions of up to 14 times a month. This has had a negative impact particularly on small enterprises and among consumers who have expressed wide dissatisfaction with the increased frequency of electricity outages,” it said.
“The project is designed to improve the stability of the power system and reliability of electricity supply,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank country director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. “Helwan South will boost the use of cleaner fuel by utilising natural gas. It will displace older and less efficient generation and reduce emissions.”
The press release said that the project will create 4,000 jobs, 75% during construction and the rest for plant operation and maintenance. “In the broader economic context, Helwan South will help create indirect employment opportunities and boost economic growth,” it said.
Andersen explained, “This gas-fired plant will help Egypt meet its growing electricity demands and ensure access to reliable services that are critical for the country’s economic growth and job creation.”