Egypt adds an extra hour to rolling power blackouts

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Egypt said it was extending its rolling power blackouts across the country for an extra hour on Tuesday to allow for preventative maintenance on its regional gas and power networks and because of increased consumption caused by a heatwave.

Temperatures rose to nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Cairo on Tuesday and were forecast to climb even higher over the coming few days.

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“This requires increasing the load shedding period for an additional hour, today only, to maintain the operational efficiency of the national electricity transmission and gas networks,” a joint statement by the ministries of petroleum and electricity said.

Supplies of the natural gas that helps Egypt generate electricity have been dwindling at a time when an expanding population has been pushing up electricity demand. The government has heavily subsidized power prices for years.

The state-owned power sector began cutting power for an hour a day last summer and increased this to up to two hours at this start of this summer.

The country has also been short of foreign currency to facilitate gas imports over the past two years.

Egypt has been trying to reduce spending on subsidies since signing an $8 billion financial support package with the International Monetary Fund in March.

The government raised prices on a wide range of fuels in March and quadrupled the price of subsidized bread on June 1.

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