Egypt dims street, square lights

CAIRO (AFP) — An economic crisis spurred by the Ukraine war is casting darkness upon Egypt’s streets, as the government dims lights to free up energy for export and bolster hard currency reserves.

Among the measures to conserve energy were “reducing lighting in streets and public squares.”

The government said electricity rationing seeks to achieve “an additional surplus — at an average of 15 percent of the natural gas pumped to power stations — that can be exported and bring in hard currency.”

Since 2018, Egypt has been ramping up its natural gas capacity, now setting its sights on an energy-hungry Europe, which is eager to decrease reliance on Russian gas.

Egypt’s monetary policy has been caught between a rock and a hard place since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The country’s vital tourism sector has also been hit by the Ukraine conflict, cutting the flow of holidaymakers to a country still hurting from the 2011 revolution and Covid-19 pandemic.

Economic growth slowed to 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 22 against 7.7 percent last year, although annual expansion was 6.6 percent.

Inflation hit a three-year high of 14.6 percent in July after Egypt devalued the pound, pushing up the price of imports and depleting foreign exchange reserves by $7.8 billion since February to $33.1 billion in July.

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