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5/12/06

IRAQ: Kurds look to Iran for electricity needs

BAGHDAD, 11 May 2006 (IRIN) - The regional government of Kurdistan in northern Iraq is negotiating with the Iranian government to buy electricity in order to meet increased energy demand for the region, said a senior Kurdish official.

According to Hersh Muharam, senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two political parties controlling the eastern half of the region, eastern Kurdistan needs about 1,000 megawatts of electricity, while the central government currently supplies about 150 megawatts. "This isn't enough for Kurdistan, where tens of [industrial] projects are being built," Muharam said.

A high-level Kurdish delegation, therefore, is scheduled to soon visit Tehran in order to finalise an agreement by which Iran would build subsidiary power stations near its borders with Iraq to supply about 132 megawatts of electricity to Kurdistan, said Muharam. "This won't solve the electricity problem in the region," added Muharam, who declined to elaborate on the project, scheduled to begin within a year. "But it's good help."

At the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq's Kurdish region was granted autonomy following a popular uprising against the regime of former president Saddam Hussein. But during its 15 years of self-rule, Kurdish authorities have been unable to provide adequate electricity to residents, many of whom have access to electricity for only part of the day.

This has forced many Kurds to depend on small, private generators that are often installed in the streets for public use. "Because I've got four children who need electricity to study, we live with the deafening noise of our own generator in addition to the private one in the street," said 45-year-old housewife and Sulaimaniyah resident Sazan Hadi. "We're spending half of our income on electricity; we buy fuel for our generator and also pay for the one in the street."

Not every resident of Kurdistan, however, can afford to pay for their own electricity supply. Sarkot Ibrahim, a 54-year-old taxi driver, said he has no choice but to simply wait for electricity from the government power grid. "Both the central and regional governments failed to respond to poor people's needs, especially in terms of electricity," complained Ibrahim.


The above article comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006

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