Iraq signs deal with GE to boost power output
BAGHDAD - Iraq has signed a $328 million deal with US company General Electric that will boost power output during peak summer months, officials said Friday, although it falls far short of the country's needs.
The deal will make only a small dent in the country's major summer production shortfall, which leaves Iraqis with just a few hours of government-provided power a day while temperatures can hit 50 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit).
Electricity ministry spokesman Musaab al-Mudarris told AFP that the deal, which involves maintenance and improvements on more than 10 power stations in multiple provinces, would add between 700 and 1,000 megawatts to production capacity.
The US embassy in Baghdad said he deal was "valued at more than $328 million", and that it "will sustain and increase Iraq's power generation by at least 700 megawatts for the peak summer period".
But Electricity Minister Qassem al-Fahdawi told parliament last year that the summer production shortfall was over 7,500 megawatts, meaning the projected increase under the GE deal is still dwarfed by the scale of the problem.
Fahdawi also said that production is only part of the problem, as Baghdad's grid has a maximum capacity of 3,500 megawatts irrespective of how much is produced.
Anger over poor services and widespread corruption sparked weeks of protests in Baghdad and other areas last year, pushing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to announce a reform programme.
But little in the way of significant change, either in terms of corruption or services, has taken place so far.