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Posted September 10, 2005 by publisher in Business In Cuba

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Press Release - OPEC Fund for International Development

The OPEC Fund for International Development today signed a US$10 million loan agreement with the Republic of Cuba to co-finance the modernization and expansion of the electricity network in the capital, Havana. The aim of the project is to improve the quality and efficiency of service delivery, with a view to boosting the country’s socio-economic development.

Much of Havana’s electricity distribution network has reached the end of its useful life, as more than half of the system was built over 50 years ago. In addition, some power lines and transformers have been in operation since the 1920s. As a result, transmission and distribution losses are high and power cuts are frequent. Demand for electric power is on the rise, due to the city’s growing population and increased economic activity. Additionally, the promotion of electricity for household use, instead of the currently utilized oil-based fuels (which are more polluting and unsafe for cooking purposes), will increase peak electrical load even further.

Under the project, Havana’s high voltage transmission system and medium and low-voltage distribution network will be fully rehabilitated through the repair and construction of substations and power lines. Other works will include the installation of lightning protector cables and modernization of the underground networks in Havana’s historic district. Meters, power lines and other equipment connecting the distribution network to approximately 435,000 households, as well as major industrial and commercial premises, will be completely upgraded. Public safety will be enhanced by installing new street lights and repairing existing ones. Another component will entail training the staff of Empresa Eletrica Ciudad de la Habana, Havana’s largest provincial electricity provider.

The project will lead to improved living standards for some 1.5 million people. In addition, the newly-rehabilitated network will encourage the development of tourism-related businesses, a major source of income for the country.

The OPEC Fund has approved two previous loans for Cuba that supported projects in the sectors of water supply and sanitation and agriculture. Additionally, an emergency grant was extended to the country in 2001 to aid hurricane victims, while another grant went toward an initiative to renovate historic buildings in Havana.

Today’s agreement was signed in Vienna by H.E. Mrs. Marta Lomas Morales, Minister of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation of the Republic of Cuba, and by H.E. Mr. Jamal Nasser Lootah, Chairman of the Governing Board of the OPEC Fund.

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