Lebanon has reportedly received a multimillion-dollar donation from China to install solar energy for the country’s internet provider, according to Lebanon’s ministry of telecommunications.
The New Arab news service says that Ogero, the state-owned telecommunications service, will get over US$8 million to supply more than 830 of its sites with solar energy panels. The solar energy project is expected to be operating by summer 2024.
The national grid Électricité du Liban (EDL) barely produces three or four hours of power a day and outages are common for landline, mobile and internet users. Indeed Ogero has in the past resorted to backup generators. And of course it’s not alone. Most businesses and institutions regularly face severe power problems.
There’s a question mark over how the US will react to Chinese funding, albeit indirect, of Lebanon’s communications sector, but the country has arguably been left little choice. As the UK’s Financial Times said in August, the country has been “blighted by decades of hubris, deceit and corruption” and is “now mired in what the World Bank has called one of the world’s worst economic depressions”.
However, ironically, this may also have driven the move to solar energy. A headline in the same newspaper last November said: “Lebanon’s failing state forces unplanned shift to solar power” and explained how households and businesses are installing renewables to bypass the power crisis.