A parliamentary report for Iraq’s Oil and Energy Committee recently estimated that the country was losing about $40bn due to its lingering power crisis. Blackouts have become a part of daily life for most Iraqis, a symptom of the government’s inability to make progress on building next-generation facilities.

The exception is the Kurdish region in the north, where the semi-autonomous government has invited private firms to build power plants.

Baghdad tried this once in 2010, but scrapped the plans in 2011 after being disappointed with the bids it received. Now, it is resurrecting those plans as part of a renewed push to solve the power crisis and provide a bedrock for the development of the non-oil economy.

A new National Development Plan envisages spending almost $360bn over the next five years on developing infrastructure and diversifying the economy. Any attempt at diversification will be reliant on boosting power production. At present, peak demand is estimated at 14,000MW. Capacity is less than half that.

The initial attempt failed partly because the government refused to guarantee a supply of gas feedstock for the power plants.

Hussain al-Shahristani, Iraq’s deputy prime minister for energy affairs ominously said some power plants would be completed this year, but there will not be any gas for them. For the programme to be a success, Baghdad must make more concessions to the private sector, most importantly it must guarantee supplies of fuel.