Lebanon’s cabinet in mid-March approved a plan to restructure the country’s electricity sector, a key factor for donors and the World Bank to extend financing for regional deals to alleviate the country’s power supply.

The reform plan is understood to include the creation of an electricity regulatory authority this year, as well as a revised version of an earlier plan to increase electricity tariffs.

The previous plan forecast a $3.5bn investment in the sector to secure 24-hour power across the country by 2026.

The country has not seen 24-hour electricity supply since the 1975-90 civil war. Periodic cash transfers to debt-ridden state utility Electricite du Liban have also contributed to the country’s huge public debt.

Exact details of the revised plan, which the government has approved, have not yet been made public.

Political strife

At least two electricity sector reform plans have gone unimplemented in the past due to political disagreements, according to Reuters.

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In April last year, an expert on the region’s energy sector told MEED Lebanon needs to tap renewable energy sources to avoid worsening its ongoing electricity crisis.

“At this stage, the government needs to ensure the highest reliance on domestically available resources – renewable energy – to reduce the outflow of foreign currencies and keep the lights on,” said Jessica Obeid, an associate at the Chatham House think-tank.

The IMF with which Lebanon is discussing a potential bailout programme, said in February that preventing the sector’s drain on public resources was a key pillar of the country’s recovery from a deep financial crisis.

This article is published by MEED, the world’s leading source of business intelligence about the Middle East. MEED provides exclusive news, data and analysis on the Middle East every day. For access to MEED’s Middle East business intelligence, subscribe here.