Egypt resumes daylight saving time, seven years later

After seven years without applying it, Egypt resumes daylight saving time this year. Officials hope to save energy, and collect foreign reserves from natural gas exports.


Egypt will apply daylight saving time this year. Ambassador Nader Saad, the official spokesman for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, announced the change on Wednesday. Clocks will be moved forward by one hour at midnight on Friday, April 28, until the last Thursday of October, on the 26th.

It marks the end of a 7-year hiatus during which the government didn’t apply summertime, a move seen as a way to save energy and improve foreign reserves of a country entangled in an economic crisis since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The last time Egypt applied daylight saving time was in 2014. The country has been adopting and canceling the change multiple times. Last year, the Egyptian government announced measures to reduce energy consumption in government institutions and commercial buildings to export more natural gas.

The cabinet released the bill in early March. It justified that it “comes in light of the economic conditions and changes the world is witnessing, and the government’s endeavor to rationalize energy use.”

Natural gas is the source of 86 percent of the electricity generated in Egypt, according to International Energy Agency data for 2020. It is also a significant source of foreign reserves, which the country needs, in a context of high demand for its gas as Russia has cut supplies to European countries.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year severely affected the Egyptian economy, raised commodity prices and prompted foreign investors to pull about 20 billion dollars out of its financial markets, putting the country in an economic crisis.

Foreign currency liquidity was an important vulnerability factor for the Egyptian economy, and the war in Ukraine made it worse. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, with Ukraine and Russia as large suppliers. But its price considerably increased last year, leading authorities to control the price of bread.

Saving energy and collecting foreign reserves from natural gas exports

The Central Bank of Egypt uses foreign currency reserves to import strategic goods and stabilize prices. But despite the financial support from the International Monetary Fund, which signed a 46-month package of 3 billion dollars in December, and Gulf states, the Central Bank’s foreign exchange reserves only rose moderately, to 37 billion dollars in February 2023, which accounts for less than four months of goods and services imports.

According to a BNP Paribas report, Egypt’s economy, whose growth is expected to slow down to 4 percent at best in 2023, is against a backdrop of high inflation and the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, making imports more costly. In March, Egypt’s annual inflation was 32.7 percent, according to the country’s statistics agency CAPMAS, close to its highest inflation rate on record six years ago.

Last October, the government of Egypt agreed on a bill to allow oversea Egyptians to import cars without tax in the territory so that the country could collect some foreign reserves.

According to the Egyptian government, daylight saving time reduces electricity consumption by 10 percent. But DST has been increasingly challenged for its impact on health, sleep, the difference between social and body clocks, and the little effects on energy saving.

Summertime arrangements are observed in about 60 countries but some like Iceland, Argentina, Russia, and Turkey abolished daylight saving time.

An explanatory memorandum from the European Commission in 2018 explained that “research indicates that the overall energy savings effect of summertime is marginal.” Electricity consumption in Europe evolved a lot in past decades, with low-consumption lighting for example. As a consequence, its prevalence in the overall energy mix, and the impact of its consumption, significantly decreased. But in Egypt, electricity accounted for 23 percent of the total energy consumption in 2020, when it was only 13 percent in 1990.

Turkey removed daylight saving time in 2017 and chose to stick to winter time. Although data suggest the opposite, it even reported saving energy, with marginal differences anyway.

The European Union Parliament voted in 2019 on the end of time arrangements from 2021. However, countries couldn’t agree on the time to choose. The change is no longer on the agenda.

In the United States, the Sunshine Protection Act passed unanimously in the Senate last year. It made daylight saving time permanent across the country from 2023, although it was not totally certain which time would be chosen. But the bill stalled in the House of Representatives and has still not been enforced.

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