Electricity blackouts hit Luxor at least five, hour-long times each of the first two days I was here. I’ve been known to fall asleep in whatever chair is nearby when this happens.
Today, the electricity cut out only twice.
A friend of our other English teacher’s arrived from Cairo today and shared that, the last two weeks, the power went out across Cairo every couple of hours. But today, he said, it happened only once before he left this afternoon.
The boyfriend of the teacher told me the government is letting up because they could sense the unrest that the lack of electricity was causing. I’m not so sure it’s that simple, nor that the government is that coordinated.
Power outages have hit Egypt the past four summers (see articles from 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). Each was owed to increasing demands, decreasing natural gas supplies and plummeting foreign currency reserves.
A sudden improvement following Morsi’s ousting last summer led some to believe, and The New York Times to report, the utilities upheaval was part of a larger plan to cause unrest. But, alas, the outages returned during the winter of 2014. Now, the outages are supposedly (according to the Luxor locals) worse than ever. Egypt’s Ministers of Electricity and Petroleum continue to ask people to reduce consumption, but that’s next to impossible when the quintessential street vendor depends on his meager stove to make money off a few hot sandwiches, and his electric fan in order to stay standing.
Earlier this summer, The Washington Post owed the power shortages to political rifts with oil-rich countries after Egypt threw out the last president to suggest an Islamic nation.
Hamad told me today, “I prefer Mubarak — at least we had electricity.”
Photo: I read a beginner’s French-to-Arabic phonetical book by headlamp light.