On Sunday, August 2, the General Electric Corporation of Libya (GECOL) announced that a new Government of National Accord (GNA) backed force had been deployed to protect power infrastructure managed by GECOL. It has reportedly been deployed at sites in al-Ruwais, Shakshuk, Ajaliat, al-Kremiya, al-Zahra, Al-Zawaiya, al-Harsha, and Bir al-Ghanam. The role of the new force is to prevent the entry of armed groups onto the sites and to ensure that energy loads are equally distributed.
The move comes following several recent instances of GECOL facilities being seized by gunmen, who have restored electricity to certain areas at the expense of others. This has led to complete blackouts in parts of western Libya, with regions experiencing power outages of up to 30 hours.
Further attacks against energy infrastructure in western Libya are possible in the near term.
Damage from years of conflict, lagging maintenance, and a lack of investment since the 2011 civil war have left Libya's electricity infrastructure in a poor state of repair. Inadequate electricity generation capacity in recent years has seen regular load-shedding outages of up to ten hours in some areas, with blackouts increasing in the summer months as high temperatures put additional strain on infrastructure. The electricity supply issues have prompted numerous service delivery protests in Tripoli and other areas in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling for the dismissal of the management of GECOL. Although these demonstrations have remained largely peaceful, communities have occasionally attempted to seize or disrupt GECOL facilities in order to restore the supply.
Those in western Libya are advised to monitor developments, anticipate localized disruption to power supply, and heed any directives issued by local authorities. All demonstrations and political gatherings in Libya should be avoided due to the risk of incidental violence and aggressive crowd-dispersal operations by security forces.
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