Electricity Crisis means Lights Out for Iraqis, Again

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Never-ending Electricity Crisis means Lights Out for Iraqis, Again

Electricity generators have often saved Iraqis from summer temperatures that can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Yet, they have also become a symbol for Iraqis suffering a lack of basic services, especially electricity. Generators have also become evidence that the government has failed to supply sufficient electricity.

One of the most notable plans was the Ministry of Electricity’s announcement in April 2013 that 2015 would witness an end to the electricity crisis and that the next year’s summer is set to become better than the ones that preceded it in terms of electricity. However, such promises have come to naught.

Ali Hatem, a grocer from the Babylon province, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Baghdad, relies on three sources of electricity to supply his house, after the Ministry of Electricity failed to provide the citizens with sufficient electricity.

He told Al-Monitor, "The first source is [his] own gasoline-powered generator, which produces 10 amps for six hours a day. The second is the neighborhood’s generator supplying 20 amps for nearly 10 hours a day. This is while the electricity during the rest of the day is supplied by the government.”

This is an example of how much the Iraqis rely on the indispensable generators at home and in the workplace.

Hatem told Al-Monitor that he paid $300 to purchase a Chinese-made generator that produces 10 amps of electricity. This is while he pays $50 as a monthly subscription to receive electricity from the neighborhood’s generator.

He said, “[When I’m out of gasoline] I have to get it in a barrel from the station for nearly $70. It will be enough just for a month and a half.”

He added, “All of these efforts are made to have 10 amps of electricity and to be able to run a refrigerator, an air conditioner and a TV.”

The electricity crisis in Iraq dates back prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, when the country used to produce nearly 4,300 MW daily, which did not meet its electricity needs. According to a 2014 statement by Iraqi Minister of Electricity Qasim al-Fahdawi, Iraq needs 30,000 MW daily.

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