Yemen to invest US $1.5bn in power

Country must boost power generation capacity to keep up with demand

Yemen urgently needs more electricity.
Yemen urgently needs more electricity.

Yemen is planning to invest US $1.5 billion to boost its flagging power generation capacity by almost 1400 megawatts.

The country is developing a long-term power strategy as its population of 23 million is set to double in 20 years.

In 2008, the most recent year for which data was available, Yemen had an installed annual power capacity of 1130 megawatts, according to US government statistics.

This year the country plans to add 350 megawatts to the main gas turbine Maarib power plant, which now has a capacity of 340 megawatts, Salah al-Attar, head of the General Investment Authority, told Reuters in an interview.

In a separate step, Yemen has started talks with firms to add another 400 megawatts to the plant within 20 months as a public-private partnership.

“Yemen has one of the lowest rates of electricity capacity per capita in MENA,” the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said in a statement in 2008 when it signed an advisory mandate with Yemen to help with IPP projects.

“Inability to meet a demand growing by almost 10% a year has resulted in power shortages and reliance on inefficient, costly diesel-fired rental units,” said the IFC.

Attar gave no cost estimate for the power projects, saying only that each additional megawatt would typically cost about US $1 million.

Total spending to improve the electricity network would be US $1.5 billion until the end of 2011, said Hisham Sharaf Abdullah, deputy minister for planning and international cooperation.

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