The World Bank has approved an immediate $14 million grant as part of a multiphase programme to develop the energy sector in Palestine. A further $49 million is set to be contributed by donor states.
The funding will boost Palestine's economic growth through the Advancing Sustainability in Performance, Infrastructure, and Reliability of Energy Sector project, which will work on the diversification of energy sources.
"Power demand in the West Bank is fast outpacing supply and Gaza is already facing severe challenges with electricity supply," explained Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza. "This multiphase programmatic approach, new to the region, is a model of collaboration between the World Bank, the Palestinian Authority and the donor partners to ensure more stable energy supplies while enabling transformation of the sector."
Since the West Bank was captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, Palestinians have been largely dependent on electricity supplied by the occupation state.
According to the official press release, phase one of the programme will focus on building new infrastructure and rehabilitating existing facilities to improve reliability and facilitate better electricity interconnections with Israel and Jordan. It will also support improved metering systems with a focus on identifying solutions for the poorer communities and reducing non-technical losses due to theft and unregistered customers.
According to World Bank Senior Energy Specialist Monali Ranade, "In the Palestinian fragile context, the multi-phase programme will offer the flexibility to adapt the course of actions to new emerging challenges and opportunities while aiming for a more stable and sustainable energy sector. Over eight-years, the programme will enable the sector to strengthen its creditworthiness and attract private sector investment."
The World Bank Group's involvement in the occupied West Bank and Gaza dates back to November 1992 when it was asked by the co-sponsors of the Middle East Multilateral Peace Talks to lead and support a programme of economic assistance for the Palestinian people.