Minister Sumaee speaks candidly about Yemen’s electricity situation

National Yemen

Dr. Saleh Sumaee

Dr. Saleh Sumaee has presented a detailed description of the Electricity Ministry’s operations – its achievements and the obstacles it has faced for months. Sumaee stated that the Ministry of Electricity worked with only 371 megawatts, and that it was only able to raise the capacity to 912 megawatts by undertaking comprehensive maintenance operations.
“Yemen needs a new electricity system, especially since the distribution system is completely flawed and requires a new net,” said Sumaee.
He stated that the security system at Marib Gas Station hadn’t been completed, and that it was the reason for continuous stoppages at stations. He added that Yemen needs around 3,000 megawatts in the coming three years and also that the government had proposed a number of projects to donors which are currently under negotiation.
Sumaee said that the Thahban Station hadn’t operated for two years because of a lack of diesel, while private sector generators had continued functioning without stoppages.
Sumaee stated that the government had be faced with a difficult situation when it came to its electricity system. “Compared to other countries, Yemen produces a limited number of megawatts, which can barely cover power needs,” he added.
According to Sumaee, exceptional circumstances had forced the government to renew purchase contracts despite the high cost of doing so.
“Private companies suddenly stopped producing power when the previous contracts ended, which raised a large amount of discontentment among people in coastal and hot governorate.”
He added that President Hadi had directed the government and Ministry of Electricity to purchase power for the coastal and southern governorates to avoid any chances of public complaints which could serve the interests of certain factions.
Sumaee said that he had signed contracts to purchase electercity for Aden at a capacity of 70 megawatts and 60 megawatts for Hodeida governorate. Sumaee stated that he and the ministry had signed other contracts to provide power for Lahj, Mareb, Jaouf and other areas.
“The government entrusted local authorities to negotiate with private companies, while the ministry was assigned to approve the contracts,” he stated. According to Sumaee, they paid 3.5 cents per kilowatt, a far cry from previous purchase prices.
Minister Sumaee also spoke about examples of corruption when it came to power purchases, saying that before, the government would purchase 70 megawatts for the Al-Ahram Company while it produced only 57 megawatts. He held former ministry administration accountable for such disparities.
Regarding the state of the transfer net, Sumaee said that it wasn’t any worse than that of the production sector. He also spoke about various efforts to introduce power projects, including the construction of a power line between Aden and Abyan. Sumaee noted administrative situations that the ministry suffered from, including its emploing 14 thousand people, with only 7 % of them engineers, while the rest 93% are administrators who carry primary or elementary school certificates.
“This puts a great challenge before the ministry as far as rehabilitating the staff situation,” added Sumaee. According to him, 6,000 thousand employee were hired in one year, even while many of them were not qualified for their positions.
Speaking about the electricity institution’s financial situation, Sumaee said it was in danger of collapse, and that the general situation would have been worse without support from the Ministry of Finance. “The institution’s revenues are still in bad shape, and the ministry continues to face great challenges as it’s loaded with YR 61billion of debts to oil companies,” he stated.
According to Sumaee, the institution has asked people to pay YR 71 billion, YR 30 billion of which should come from prominent state figures. Sumaee promised to publish the names of those officials who refuse to pay their debts to the institution in various media outlets.