CAIRO: Frequent power outages have sparked frustration and anger across Egypt, and the owners of small businesses are among the worst affected.
“The electricity is cut off about three times a day, for an hour each time, bringing work to a standstill,” Jamal Sayed, who owns a small supermarket in the Faisal area, told Arab News.
Egypt achieved electricity self-sufficiency several years ago. A report published last year by the Cabinet Media Center said investment in electricity production totaled 355 billion Egyptian pounds ($11.5 billion) between 2014 and the end of 2021.
It also highlighted the addition of 30,000 megawatts of electrical capacity with the completion of 31 power stations and the Benban solar energy complex. This led to an electricity surplus of 13,000 MW in June 2020, turning around a 6,000 MW deficit from June 2014.
Despite that progress, power outages continue to hit local businesses.
“The cheese cutter and the scale, along with the refrigerators which store cheese, juices and ice cream, all run on electricity. High temperatures during the outage risk spoiling these goods,” Sayed said.
“The damage affects my livelihood and that of my children.”
He said he was not sure why the power kept failing.
“The government attributes it to load mitigation or overvoltage on the national grid due to high air conditioning usage during this heat wave,” he said.
“My shop is near my residence. But the power at my place is off for more than three hours daily, trapping me between the house and the store.”
Weam Al-Sayed, who works in a small women’s accessories shop, said: “We lose customers during power cuts as they cannot bear being in an unair-conditioned place.
“I estimate the losses in the past two weeks to be around 20,000 pounds per week — a significant amount compared to the shop’s income. I pray the power outages don’t persist.”
Sayed Jalal, a carpenter in the Ain Shams region, told Arab News he was also struggling with the unreliable power supply to his workshop.
“I have a machine that runs on electricity. Here, the power goes out for over five hours daily, including two hours at night and the rest during the day — during hours we cannot function without electricity.
“We’re willing to support our state in good times and bad, but they must consider the shops and workshops that rely on power.”
Jalal said he could not exactly quantify his losses as his income varied from month to month, but hoped the government would soon find a way out of the crisis.
“Some months we earn 100,000 pounds … others we dip into our savings to pay our workshop staff. But, undoubtedly, the power cuts compound our difficulties.”