Middle East countries have plans to invest $78,000 million in new power projects before the end of the century. According to data compiled for the annual MEED special report on power, generating capacity in the region could rise by 70 per cent if all the proposals are implemented. This is a sharp increase on estimates compiled in 1993.

Planned investment has risen by 28 per cent and the estimate of additional capacity required is up by 23 per cent. Total regional generating capacity could rise to nearly 170,000 MW, up from around 100,000 MW at present. The largest increase in estimates was for Pakistan but projections of future demand have also risen sharply in all of the GCC states. Demand in some countries is growing at 15 per cent a year. Even higher rates of growth have been recorded in Saudi Arabia this summer. The biggest planned additions to capacity are in Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The MEED survey shows the private sector is being encouraged to play an active part in new projects, in a departure from the tradition of state- led development.

Construction of Pakistan’s Hub river scheme, the first major private power project in the area, is in its second year and a host of other proposals has been presented to the Pakistani authorities. Independent power projects are making progress in Oman and Bahrain while private initiatives are also being considered in other GCC states. Private solutions to the looming power shortage are also being considered in North Africa where Morocco is drawing up a short list of international companies for two major independent schemes (see Special Report, pages 27-47).