How Can Yemen Best Make Use of Its Natural Wealth?
National Yemen, April 13th 2014
Yemen possesses considerable oil and natural gas reserves. However, nobody can say that Yemen is making full use of these. Despite having the fourth largest population in the Middle East – if we exclude Palestine – it has the lowest electricity production. Installed power per capita in Yemen is a mere 40 W, compared to 857 W in Turkey.
According to World Bank figures, only 40% of the population of Yemen have access to electricity. The electric network does not cover the entire country, and the existing electrical infrastructure is antiquated, so much so that around 25% of the electricity produced is lost during transmission. So why is energy production in Yemen, with its rich oil and natural gas resources, so inadequate? The answer is quite obvious:
Energy resources in Yemen are used for export. According to the IMF, 60% of public revenue comes from oil and natural gas sales. But according to reports in the Yemeni press, the public finds itself unable to benefit sufficiently from this revenue.
Good energy planning is essential if economic regeneration is to be started in Yemen. These plans must consist of identification of reserves, extraction, exports and the use of export revenues.
Yemen's revenues clearly need to be used for the production of facilities in the first stage. The best way of investing revenues from energy exports will be in the building of new power stations and bringing its electric grid up to date. Yemen can benefit from Turkey in that respect.
Turkey is looking for new countries to obtain natural gas from. It also possesses the capacity to build and operate energy plants. It has a large skilled workforce with energy sector experience; costs are also much lower compared to Europe and America. In return for giving oil and natural gas to Turkey, Yemen can request new power plants and electric network construction. In addition, the Yemeni government can opt for the build-operate-transfer model that has been successfully applied in Turkey: This model, summarized as service in return for goods, can put an end to the debates in Yemen about the best use of revenues and those revenues' proper distribution among regions.
Yemen's fossil-fuel energy resources are limited. The country is estimated to have three billion barrels of oil and 480 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves. If consumption continues at present rates, all the oil in the country will have been used up within 30 years and natural gas within 50 years. In truth, however, all the oil and natural gas may be used up much faster than that.
The limited nature of its energy resources is another problem Yemen needs to address. That problem can be overcome by building energy power stations based on wind, solar and small hydroelectric resources. Turkey can be an excellent partner for Yemen in achieving that solution.
In order for all these things to happen, it is first and foremost essential to overcome the security problem of the pipelines in Yemen. The pipelines and energy plants throughout the country are frequently subject to sabotage; indeed, tribes literally blackmail the government over the security of pipelines that run through their territory. The authority of the state therefore needs to be strengthened on the one hand, while a sense of national awareness and a spirit of solidarity needs to be established in the tribes on the other.
As we have seen, in order for all the wealth of Yemen to be used in order to benefit the Yemeni people, both those in charge of that wealth and those who will make use of it must be in possession of a conscience and the only way to have a conscience is through faith. Only people of faith always act by heeding the voice of their conscience.
Consequently, there is only one solution to the injustices, turmoil, terror and poverty in Yemen – to live by the moral values of the Qur'an.
Looking at the myriad problems in Yemen in general terms, they are all caused by irrationality and emotions such as lovelessness, hatred, loathing, enmity, self-interest, selfishness, apathy and ruthlessness. The only way to resolve and totally eliminate these issues are through reason, love, affection, compassion, altruism sensitivity, self-sacrifice, friendship, understanding and common sense. These characteristics are only to be found in people who fully abide by the moral values of the Qur'an. God reveals in verses how morality of the Qur'an leads people out of darkness:
…. A Light has come to you from God and a Clear Book. By it, God guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission, and guide them to a straight path. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 15-16)
In another verse, God describes how there will be nothing but devastation if people do not abide by the Qur'an:
If the truth were to follow their whims and desires, the heavens and the earth and everyone in them would have been brought to ruin. No indeed! We have given them their reminder, but they have turned away from it. (Surat al-Muminun, 71)
The most important thing that needs to be done to resolve all the various problems is to ensure that people all over Yemen live by the moral values of the Qur'an.
We need to remember that people who fail to heed their conscience, who behave insensitively and uncaringly toward the poor, orphaned and wretched, who spend the possessions given them in this world on empty and foolish things, who uncaringly watch the mistreatment of women, children and the elderly, who delight in the spread of all forms of immorality and ugliness across the world and who encourage others to engage in such behavior will be held to account for this in the hereafter:
Have you seen him who denies the religion? He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan and does not urge the feeding of the poor. So woe to those who perform the prayer, and are forgetful of their prayer, those who show off and deny help to others. (Surat al-Ma'un, 1-7)
Therefore it is abiding by the moral values of the Qur'an that will help Yemen towards a better and brighter future for all of its peoples and lead them into an era of prosperity, plentitude and brotherhood.