Yemenis go solar amid war energy shortage

Farmers walk next to solar panels at a farm in Wadi Dhahr near Sanaa, in Yemen. (Reuters)
Updated 18 November 2019

Yemenis go solar amid war energy shortage

  • Electricity was cut to Yemen’s capital four years ago after war broke out
  • Only 10 percent of the population are estimated to have access to electricity after the conflict began

SANAA: When electricity was cut to Yemen’s capital four years ago after war broke out, Ebrahim Al-Faqih saw a gap in the market and started selling solar panels.

Faqih is part of a booming solar sector transforming lives and energy sustainability in Yemen, a poor country with scant rural power access even before conflict knocked out most of the national grid.

“Even people who used to work selling food moved to work in solar energy because of the high demand,” Al-Faqih said from his shop in Sanaa selling solar water heaters and panels imported from India and China.

The UN estimates that only 10 percent of the population had access to electricity after the conflict began.

Many areas need pumps to bring drinking and irrigation water to the surface and fuel shortages have also made water hard to come by.

“Electricity these days is not just for lighting — electricity is life,” said Muhammad Yahya, whose home in Sanaa is powered by rooftop solar panels.

He sees solar energy as a stopgap measure for those who can get it and hopes everyone will have mains electricity when the war ends.

 

Solar farming

Sanaa is controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthis. There is no state power supply to Sanaa and many other areas, and buying a diesel generator or hooking up to a neighborhood generator is polluting and too expensive for many people.

“Alternative energy is better, it changed my life dramatically. Now I barely rely on normal electricity,” said Sanaa resident Akram Noman.

He wants tax reforms to encourage solar energy use, and loans for farmers to buy solar systems.  


Indian bank governor reiterates there is more scope to cut rates

Updated 13 min 34 sec ago

Indian bank governor reiterates there is more scope to cut rates

  • India’s monetary policy committee surprised markets and analysts this month by holding rates steady
  • India’s annual economic growth slowed to 4.5 percent in the July-September quarter, its weakest pace since 2013
MUMBAI: There is scope in India for cutting interest rates further and the central bank will use it when required after studying growth and inflation data, the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) governor, Shaktikanta Das, said on Monday.
The monetary policy committee (MPC) surprised markets and analysts this month by holding rates steady after trimming the key interest rate by 135 basis points since the beginning of the current rate reduction cycle in February.
“While taking a pause we very carefully and very definitely said there is space for further monetary policy action but the timing will have to be decided in a manner that its impact is optimum and its impact is maximized,” Das told a conference, the India Economic Conclave, organized by the Times media group.
Das said markets were surprised when the committee started cutting rates in February but subsequently accepted that it was right in doing so.
“And this time, the pause we have taken, I do hope that events will unfold in a manner which will prove that the MPC decision is right,” Das said.
He said both the government and the central bank had taken steps to help the economy recover but the outcome of events in the global economy would play a role.
Das said he hoped a recent trade deal between the United States and China would hold and not be reversed. The “Phase one” agreement reduces some US tariffs in exchange for a big jump in Chinese purchases.
“What is important in the current context is co-ordinated and timely action by all the advanced and emerging economies to revive growth,” he said.
“Growth is an issue of discussion in India and global growth is also an issue of discussion because that does impact. For a moment, I am not implying that slowdown that we have seen in India is entirely due to global factors, but it does impact growth prospects for India.”
India’s annual economic growth slowed to 4.5 percent in the July-September quarter, its weakest pace since 2013, putting pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speed up reforms as five rate cuts by the central bank have failed to boost investment.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while addressing the same conference, said the government was committed to reforms and was working on reviving growth. But she declined to say when she expected an improvement to come.
“I am not going to spend time saying when it is going to reverse ... As long as anybody wants the government to intervene, we shall intervene,” she said.
“We shall keep doing that until every sector feels that ‘OK, all right, we are on track now, we are moving forward’.”
Das also stressed the importance of communication for the markets and said the RBI had tried to be as clear and transparent as possible.
“Of course, communication should follow action and any communication should not be empty words, it should be followed by further action.”