Iraqi Prime Minister Al Sudani heads to Germany for energy talks

Baghdad seeks to diversify its sources of gas and electricity supply

Mohammed Shia Al Sudani will meet Germany's Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Friday. AFP
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Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani will meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Friday to discuss projects to address chronic power shortages, his office said.

Despite its oil riches, Iraq is beset by crumbling infrastructure, endemic corruption and damage from decades of war.

Dependent on its powerful neighbour Iran for much of its energy needs, Baghdad seeks to diversify its sources of gas and electricity supply.

Mr Al Sudani, in power since October, will be received “with military honours” at the Federal Chancellery at 5pm UAE time, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

The two leaders will discuss regional issues, as well as bilateral ones, he said.

The Iraqi Prime Minister expects to sign a memorandum of understanding with German company Siemens Energy that would pave the way to the “rehabilitation and maintenance” of Iraq's power grid, his press service said.

It described it as a “promising plan for developing the electricity sector … in the field of production, transmission and distribution”.

Cooling off in Baghdad, where power cuts can leave residents sweltering in summer. EPA

Regular power cuts have been lasting from four to 10 hours a day, putting a strain on Iraq's 42 million inhabitants, nearly one-third of whom live in poverty, according to the UN.

Wealthier Iraqis resort to using generators.

Last month, Mr Al Sudani met Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Baghdad, calling for closer economic ties including in the energy sector.

In Berlin, he also intends to raise the issue of the highly polluting practice of gas flaring.

The government seeks to eliminate gas flaring, a precursor to oil extraction, which contributes to global warming. The UN said Iraq was one of five countries most exposed to some impacts of climate change.

If captured and treated, flared gas could help address Iraq's chronic power shortages.

Updated: January 13, 2023, 5:41 AM