Sisi unveils energy projects as Egypt ends power shortages
CAIRO - President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday inaugurated energy projects across Egypt as the country pumps up its electricity production surplus after years of power cuts that peaked in 2014.
Power cuts were a key factor behind massive street protests that led to the July 2013 ouster of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military, headed at the time by Sisi.
Sisi, elected president a year later, vowed to end power shortages especially after blackouts in the summer of 2014, amid high demand for cooling in the sweltering heat.
"There are issues in Egypt that needed to be fixed a long time ago, because of circumstances in Egypt, and not due to faults in (previous) rulers," Sisi said at the inauguration, broadcast live on state television.
The new projects include three stations that will produce 14,400 megawatts of electricity, Mohamed Erfan, head of Egypt's Administrative Control Authority, said at the ceremony.
The plants costing $7 billion are located in the new capital being built east of Cairo, in Kafr el-Sheikh province north of the capital, and in Beni Suef province to the south, said Erfan.
The stations, built by Siemens company, include "the largest air-cooled station in the world" in the new capital, said Electricity Minister Mohammed Shaker.
Each of the stations operate on eight gas turbines and four steam turbines, and each can produce 4,800 megawatts of electricity, according to a video presentation at the ceremony in the new city, attended by Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser.
Shaker said the state has spent 515 billion pounds ($28.8 billion) on energy projects since June 2014 to counter shortages dating back to at least 2008.
Those projects "achieved an electricity production surplus of 25 percent, which will contribute to securing future electricity needs across the country in addition to exporting a portion of it", Erfan said.
He said they would save the country $1 billion a year in fuel bills.
Egypt has diversified its power plants after having previously relied on natural gas for about 90 percent of its electricity production, to include sources such as renewable energies and coal, Shaker said.
The second phase of a 220-megawatt wind power plant was also inaugurated Tuesday, a project undertaken in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).