Lebanon’s state operator Ogero has confirmed it has enough diesel fuel to ensure the continuity of its internet and voice offerings until June.
Last weekend, half of Beirut experience disruptions in Ogero’s internet service as a result of insufficient diesel to power its generators. The operator’s Chairman Director General Imad Kreidieh hit out at the Ministry of Telecommunications, alleging that political red tape was to blame for the supply delays, and threatened to resign if the situation did not improve.
Local news outlet Naharnet quoted telecoms minister Johnny Corm as saying that Ogero had procured sufficient fuel to power its generators for five months. TeleGeography reported that the ministry was in the process of finalising its budget and expected to confirm this next week.
Fuel shortages are a major issue in Lebanon, affecting Ogero along with state mobile operators Alfa and Touch. The scarcity of diesel is causing widespread service outages as the providers are unable to fuel their generators in order to power their networks – and the operators’ reliance on diesel is an issue in itself, caused by problems with the national grid.
Last October, the country’s two main power plants ran out of fuel, causing a nationwide blackout lasting days. This has resulted in operators relying on generators to ensure service continuity, sending costs skyrocketing. The three state-run providers have forecast fuel to account for up to two-thirds of their costs this year, and the collapse of Lebanon’s currency has left them unable to acquire network equipment from overseas manufacturers.
Speaking to Reuters, Corm noted that the operators were beset with problems, with cable theft on the rise but more pressingly as much as 50% of the Alfa and Touch’s workforce not turning up to work. He added that urgently required tariff changes could not be implemented without cabinet approval, but a clash over the 2020 port explosion in Beirut had left the ministers at loggerheads, refusing to meet for three months.