Friday,20 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)
Friday,20 October, 2017
Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Turning off ACs

Starting next month, Egypt’s richest 20 per cent will pay higher tariffs for their electricity consumption, according to Ashraf Al-Arabi, the minister of planning.

While the percentage of the increase and how it will be measured have not been revealed, commentators agree it will mean levying higher rates on those in the highest consumption brackets. Egyptians pay for electricity usage according to six consumption brackets, with kilowatt per hour price ranging from LE0.05 to LE0.67.

The price of electricity has increased at least four times in the last five years, the latest of which was in January, an increase that the government denied had happened for a while. In all these cases, the increases were directed at the highest brackets.  

“With the current shortage in energy supplies making it impossible for increased rates of consumption to be covered, we have to rationalise the usage of electricity. Increasing the price is the best way to push people to limit their consumption,” Mohamed Selim, head of the performance unit in the Holding Company for Electricity, said.

Egypt’s six million air-conditioning units alone need the power of a power station with a capacity of 5,000 megawatts, according to Selim. The country’s overall power generation capacity is 28,000 megawatts.

The highest consumption bracket includes just two per cent of the population, which means that the planned increase will cover at least the first two, if not the first three, brackets and covering those using more than 350 kilowatts per month.

“My monthly average consumption as shown by my bills is 320 kilowatts, costing me LE70-90. But this was almost double in July and August due to the use of ACs and despite the fact that I have only one unit in the whole flat,” said Israa Thabet, a 32-year-old resident of Maadi.

The planned increase in the prices of electricity, gas and petrol are being introduced by the government as a way of limiting expenses and lightening the burden of subsidies on the budget.

Egyptians currently benefit from heavily subsidised energy compared to international prices, a fact reflected in the ballooning energy subsidies bill that is expected to reach LE130 billion this fiscal year.  

On average, in all consumption brackets the price of a kilowatt of power is LE0.22, this being equivalent to $0.04. Meanwhile, the average international price is $0.12, according to Selim.

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