Electricity purchase 'only' solution to Gaza power woes

Economists believe that the only solution to the Gaza Strip's dire power crisis is the purchase of electricity from neighbors.

Electricity purchase 'only' solution to Gaza power woes

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Palestinian economist believes that the only solution to the Gaza Strip's dire power crisis is the purchase of electricity from the coastal enclave's next-door neighbors, namely Egypt or Israel.

"Any other solution would be temporary and wouldn't resolve the crisis," Maher al-Tabaa told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

The strip has been reeling under frequent power outages due to a chronic lack of diesel fuel needed to operate the enclave's only power plant.

The 65-megawatt power plant, which supplies about one third of Gaza's total electricity needs, continues to suffer repeated shutdowns because of the lack of fuel.

The plant requires 650,000 liters of diesel fuel for its daily operations.

But providing the necessary fuel has become a tall order in light of an Egyptian army crackdown – launched in the wake of elected president Mohamed Morsi's July 3 ouster by the military –that has led to the closure of most Egypt-Gaza smuggling tunnels.

According to al-Tabaa, Gaza's current power-generating mechanisms are neither viable nor sustainable.

"The power plant has turned from an investment project to a curse, which is affecting the lives of [the Gaza Strip's] two million people," he said.

"The plant needs $750,000 a day to operate, which consumes already-limited Palestinian resources," he added.

Gaza already imports 120 megawatts of electricity from Israel every day and buys another 28 megawatts from Egypt, according to Gaza energy officials.

Grim outlook

Al-Tabaa said that the power crisis in the impoverished enclave would no doubt have a severe impact on the local economy.

"The power outages have led to decreased industrial production, leading in turn to less trade movement, which is already under pressure due to Gazans' weak purchasing power," he added.

The Egyptian army's crackdown on the cross-border tunnel network has also staunched the hapless territory's only source of badly-needed consumer goods due to a seven-year-old Israeli blockade on the strip.

Making matters worse, Israel suspended the entry of all construction materials into the Gaza Strip following the discovery last month of a tunnel – dug by Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas – linking the strip to Israel.

In September, Israel had allowed construction materials into the enclave for the first time in six years.

A recent study by Gaza's Economy Ministry predicted that local unemployment levels in the months ahead would hit a whopping 43 percent.

And if Egypt continues its crackdown on the tunnels, the study asserted, unemployment could hit the strip's all-time high – seen in 2008 – of 50 percent.

Roughly 40 percent of Gaza's overall population of about 1.8 million is poor.

"The tunnel closures, accompanied by the shutdown of commercial crossings by Israel, will result in major economic losses for the strip," warned al-Tabaa.

"The only hope for Gaza now is to open all commercial crossings and allow agricultural and industrial exports from the territory," he added.

 

Last Mod: 11 Kasım 2013, 17:53
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