The World Bank has stipulated that Lebanon must audit its state electricity company, Electricity du Liban (EDL), among other reforms, before the bank will consider funding the country’s struggling electricity sector, according to Ferid Belhaj, the bank’s regional vice president.
Since Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, the public provision of electricity has been inadequate, and the situation has worsened over the past three years due to the financial crisis hindering the government’s capacity to secure fuel.
Lebanon has sought World Bank funding to alleviate the situation, but Belhaj informed caretaker premier Najib Mikati that the country must first audit EDL, activate its recently announced regulatory authority, and recover provision costs through collection.
Mikati’s office released a statement outlining these conditions but didn’t comment.
Belhaj was quoted in the statement, saying, “If these three conditions are implemented, the World Bank is ready to reconsider the issue of financing the electricity sector in Lebanon.”
Lebanon has secured deals to receive electricity from Jordan and natural gas from Egypt, both through Syria, which would contribute an additional 700 megawatts to the country’s grid and extend power supply by several hours.
The World Bank has agreed to finance these agreements if Lebanon enacts long-overdue power sector reforms.
Currently, state power stations are nearly completely offline, and reduced fuel subsidies have caused operating costs for private generators to soar.
Last week, Human Rights Watch highlighted that years of neglect, mismanagement, and alleged corruption have rendered power inaccessible for many in Lebanon, exacerbating poverty and impeding access to essentials like food, water, and healthcare.