Why did Egypt decide to return to daylight saving time?
After a seven-year hiatus, the Egyptian cabinet approved daylight saving time as part of its efforts to save energy.
If Egypt’s parliament approves a bill to reintroduce daylight saving time, Egypt will have joined many countries in ensuring that darkness falls late during the summer months.
The cabinet said on Wednesday, after approving the draft law to reintroduce daylight saving time, that the introduction of the system “comes in light of the economic conditions and changes the world is witnessing, and in an effort by the government to rationalize energy use.”
The draft law stipulates that “from the last Friday of April until the end of the last Thursday of October of each Gregorian year, the legal clock in the Arab Republic of Egypt shall be the clock according to the time followed, advanced by sixty minutes.”
The last time daylight saving time was introduced was in 2015.
Egypt expects the decision to contribute to reducing the amount of electricity that citizens consume when they are at home.
Government spokesman Ambassador Nader Saad said that 40 percent of the world’s countries apply daylight saving time, including European countries and the United States, in order to rationalize electricity consumption.
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In August last year, the Egyptian government announced a set of rules aimed at reducing energy use in government and commercial institutions.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly justified the implementation of measures at the time arguing that it was aimed to reduce the quantities of natural gas used in electricity generation, and to use these quantities for exports to save on foreign currency, adding that “the more we reduce electricity consumption, the more we preserve hard currency.”
Egypt is seeking to exploit the crisis of energy shortages in EU countries against the backdrop of the Russian-Ukrainian war by increasing the volume of its gas exports.
The figures show that Egypt achieved a record number of natural gas exports in 2022. It reached 8 million tons and was valued at $8.4 billion, an increase of 140 percent over 2021.
Egypt is seeking to increase its gas exports to achieve its goal of collecting $12 billion in 2023 for its exports of this commodity. It seems that resorting to adjusting daylight saving time is part of this goal in order to continue to rationalize the consumption of gas used in the production of electricity for export.
According to recent Central Bank of Egypt figures, Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves reached $34.224 billion in January 2023, compared to about $41 billion at the end of 2022.
Egypt is currently suffering from a shortage of hard currency and a deterioration in the exchange rate of the pound, which was liberalized three times from March 2022 until last January. It has fallen against the dollar by about 24 percent over the last two months, and by more than 95 percent since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis last March, and is currently trading at 30.66 pounds per dollar.
Any point in adjusting daylight saving time?
Although daylight saving time has been used for decades as a way to reduce energy use, it has been difficult to prove effective. Early research focused on lighting and found that some energy savings were achieved, but subsequent studies involving broader patterns of energy use yielded mixed results.
A report by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that daylight saving time reduced electricity use by 1 percent but had no effect on heating the home. A European study found that the use of lighting energy decreased slightly, while demand for heating increased by 9 percent. A report by Europe’s National Bureau of Economic Research found that while lighting capacity fell, savings were offset by increased demand for heating and cooling.
But Egypt is counting on these measures to bring hard currency into its economy and desperately need to cover its debts this year. Hence, Egypt will continue to adopt measures to ensure an increase in its gas exports, which will inevitably surge after the new discoveries of gas fields and the signing of a joint agreement with the European Union.
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