In December 2008, Baghdad placed orders for the delivery of 72 turbines as the first step in the reconstruction of the country’s electricity infrastructure. At the time the demand for power components were far exceeding supply amid a worldwide surge in capacity building. Lead times were stretching into several years, so Iraq made two turbine orders worth a total of $4.5bn to GE of the US and Germany’s Siemens to ensure it would not be left standing at the back of a long line of purchasers.

Those turbines are due to start arriving in the country this year and the challenge now is to get them installed and producing power as soon as possible. But the authorities’ lack of experience in project management and funding problems are holding back progress on the appointment of contractors to carry out the work. Two construction awards were made in September 2009, but one on those has still to be finalised due to a question mark over tax liabilities and many more are needed.

Electricity provision and other public utilities are essential to improving living standards in the war-torn country. Efforts to repair damaged power stations and to boost supply have been successful in recent years and reduced the number of blackouts, but still demand at 13,000MW is almost double current output.

Iraq needs to move quickly to iron out these issues and mobilise contractors.There would nothing more frustrating than enduring power cuts, while turbines sit unused in storage.