China to build power plants in Yemen, expand ports

SANAA (Reuters) - China will build power plants in Yemen with total output capacity of 5,000 megawatts and expand the Arab country’s main container ports, the Yemeni president said after his return from a visit to China, state news agency Saba reported.

Saba news agency cited Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi as saying late on Friday that he has agreed with his Chinese counterpart during the visit to “work to set up power plants... using gas and coal and with production capacity that will reach 5,000 MW.”

A government official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters China will be building two power plants.

China will also work to expand two container ports in the southern cities of Aden and Mokha at a total cost of $508 million, the agency cited Hadi as saying.

The projects will be funded through a soft loan from the Chinese government, an official at the Yemeni Transportation Ministry told Reuters.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and neighbor to the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, relies heavily on its sea lanes for trade.

Aden is Yemen’s biggest port and one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Other terminals serving Yemen include Mokha on the Red Sea.

The impoverished southern Arabian peninsula country is struggling to tame an insurgency and rebuild its economy after years of conflict.

It suffers from acute power shortages with daily outages. Yemeni tribesmen and al Qaeda-linked militants frequently attack oil pipelines and power lines.

In September, an attack by tribesmen on power lines have caused a widespread blackout in Yemen, including in the capital Sanaa.

Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Toby Chopra