What you should know about the electricity crisis in Lebanon

In Lebanon, the electricity sector is struggling. The main producer of electricity, Électricité du Liban (EDL), has been running out of funds to purchase fuel so many households face daily electricity cuts. In July two main power plants were switched off, plunging much of Lebanon into a blackout.

A big proportion of people living in Lebanon is now completely reliant on private power generators. Those who do not have them only have electricity provided by the state for two or three hours a day.

The electricity crisis has been particularly dangerous for patients in hospitals, many of whom need electricity equipment to survive. Even though most hospitals have their own generators, sometimes that is not enough and they face intermittent power cuts.

As the government in Lebanon was only formed today after over a year-long stalemate, there were no authorities who could try to solve the electricity problem.

‘Lebanon has been without a fully empowered government since the catastrophic Aug. 4, 2020 explosion at Beirut port, which forced the resignation of then Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government. Rival political groups had been locked in disagreement over the make-up of a new government since then, hastening the country’s economic meltdown’, France24 reported.

The country’s economy has been struggling for a few years. In 2019, the government announced new tax measures to address an economic crisis. The move was counterproductive, however, and thousands of protesters took to the streets. They demanded economic rights, an end to corruption, and the resignation of politicians. The cabinet eventually resigned but many influential figures remained so the situation in Lebanon did not improve. Consequently, the protests continued.

Since 2019, the country’s currency has lost almost 90% of its original value to the dollar and fuel prices are now among the highest in the world. Because of the hyperinflation, more than half of Lebanon’s population now lives in poverty. Many people have lost access to funds they had in banks and, as most ATMs are not operational, they cannot withdraw their savings.

The fuel crisis has also been affecting all vehicle users. To get gasoline for their cars or motorbikes, people have to stand in lines for five or more hours. As very few gas stations are operating at the moment, the lines are so long that entire streets are blocked because of them. Moreover, it is not uncommon that after a few hours of waiting people hear that there is no more fuel available.

Now that a government has been formed, there is hope that the situation will improve. Of course, provided that, corruption is eliminated and that the politicians introduce critically needed reforms. The next few months will show how the situation evolves.

One of the most important things now is to negotiate a rescue package with the International Monetary Fund. That would be a milestone in dealing with the financial crisis. Until now, international security refused to provide Lebanon with financial help. It said that the country has to first put an end to widespread corruption.

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