headlineKUWAIT: Kuwait has approved the construction of a series of power plants, desalination facilities and other infrastructure projects worth a total of around 3 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($9.9 billion), the finance ministry said yesterday. Like neighboring Gulf countries, Kuwait is struggling to meet soaring demand for electricity and the planned projects will add around 3,580 megawatts of capacity, as well as waste treatment and developments for the education ministry. The ministry did not set a timescale for most of the initiatives, except for a sewage plant which will start by 2020. It also did not say how they will be funded beyond saying 50 percent of the finance will be raised through stock market offerings.

Among the projects, Kuwait plans a second phase of the gas-fired Az-Zour North power and desalinated water plant that has an initial capacity of 1,800 megawatts. It will also build the first phase of the Khairan power plant with 1500 MW of capacity, which will use different types of fuel, and the Al Abdaliyah power plant with a capacity of 280 MW, of which 60 MW will be from solar energy while the rest will be fed by gas. Kuwait plans to generate 15 percent of its energy needs via renewable sources by 2030, with the first of up to 100 solar-powered fuelling stations operating by 2017, Oil Minister Ali Saleh Al-Omair said in June. A pilot 70 megawatt project in the Shagaya desert zone west of Kuwait City was expected to be completed by next year.

The minister also said that preparatory works of partnership projects between Public and private sectors have borne fruit - 'thanks to the legislative and executive authorities that enacted a law to set up a body to run these projects.' The body has formed its structure in accordance with the international standards to help Kuwait implement projects in a competitive and professional manner, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance said.

The body's higher committee has approved six projects and their tenders were offered at the beginning of this month, he added. He affirmed that these projects will be co-implemented by both Public and private sectors as the State of Kuwait seeks to boost the participation of the private sector in sustainable development. Kuwait also plans to create a quantum leap in terms of technologies used in these projects and services provided to citizens; transfer knowledge; create jobs for nationals; attract investment opportunities in the country and support local economy to alleviate burdens on the budget, he noted. This move will be in favor of the local economy, he expected.