Overall, the economic and political outlook has become more clouded for the MENA region, even for the oil exporting nations that should stand to benefit from higher fuel prices, at least until demand destruction kicks in. As the chart below shows, demographic traits and unemployment levels contribute to this uncertainty to different degrees, depending on the country. Across the region, governments have responded with a mixture of reinforcing food subsidies, transfers to the population and, increasingly, more extensive use of force.
Kuwait has lagged behind as political deadlock delayed an infrastructure push. Its power deficits have been amplified by the fact that no new capacity has been added since 1990, and infrastructure is both old and overstretched. In June it came within a hairbreadth of outstripping the national supply threshold. Although the government managed to bring in emergency turbines and ration supply, these problems will recur before new capacity comes online. As noted in our last Outlook, RGE is pessimistic about the timelines the Kuwaiti government has set out for implementing the infrastructure plan approved early in 2010. While the plan is a step forward, the network of overlapping laws (both the public-private partnership law and power law might apply to partnerships in the power sector) and vested interests could cause delays, since there is a need both to build new plants and to renew the grid. Foreign expertise, if not foreign funds, will be in high demand, including from the Asian and European players who have been active in other GCC countries.