The Egyptian Parliament has approved the government’s decision to restore daylight savings time on April 21st until the end of the last Thursday of October of each year. Hence, residents of Egypt will move their clocks one hour forward after the holy month of Ramadan. Egypt used to use the daylight-saving time system in the summer back in the time of the old regime, but it was canceled in 2011. However, in 2014, the government reinstated the practice of advancing clocks by one hour again until it was abolished in 2016. This comes at a time when people are debating over the economic benefits of daylight-saving time.
Saving Energy by Pushing Clock Forward
The Daylight Savings Time Law was enacted in light of the global economic conditions and changes and the government's keenness to rationalize the use of energy. Aya Zoheir, Research Section Head at Zilla Capital, tells Arab Finance: “Egypt hopes that doing so will curb the country’s electricity usage and free up natural gas for export, a key foreign currency earner, since it generates about 60% of Egypt’s power!”
Accordingly, Egypt plans to rationalize energy consumption to be able to export natural gas to the European Union (EU) and support neighboring countries with needed electricity through planned interconnectivity lines. This will help the government save $25 million of worth natural gas, used to operate power plants, Yasseen Mohamed, Vice Chairman for Operation and Networks at the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), said during a joint committee from the Local Administration Committee, and the Office of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, in the House of Representatives, according to Akbar El Yom Newspaper.
During a Parliament meeting, Representative Ayman Abul Elaa, a member of the liberal Reform and Development Party pointed out that the government insisted on canceling daylight-saving time in 2016 as it has no use in saving energy; however, it claims now that moving clocks an hour forward would save power consumption. Abul Ela opposes daylight-saving time, suggesting that changing clocks increases the risk of heart disease, according to a video he shared on his YouTube channel.
Meanwhile, Zoheir explains that “although daylight-saving time has been used for decades as a way to reduce energy use, it has been difficult to prove effective. Early research focused on lighting found that some energy savings were achieved, but subsequent studies involving broader patterns of energy use yielded mixed results. A report by the US Department of Transportation found that daylight-saving time reduced electricity use by 1% but had no effect on home heating.”
Moreover, Mohamed Abou El Enein, a member of the Parliament, stated that “we should look into permanently adopting daylight saving,” pointing at Morocco, which observes daylight-saving time except during Ramadan when clocks are set back an hour.
Does Daylight-Saving Time Boost Productivity?
Daylight saving time is generally believed to boost productivity as it makes employees start working earlier on. According to biologist Christoph Randler, individuals who perform best in the early hours may be more likely to achieve their career goals than those who do not.
However, the change in the biological hours and having fewer sleeping hours affect the well-being of employees and result in loss. “Every year, the US loses almost $434 million in productivity due to the change in clocks,” according to the Washington Examiner. Therefore, business owners need to consider the time transitions, which affect employees for almost a week for bringing time forward or back.
Mohamed Abbas, Head of Corporate Sales and Partnerships at a leading fintech company, tells Arab Finance: “I think changing the time in summer and back in winter is no longer significantly effective. This is because most of the modern and widespread companies and institutions in Egypt have become working with developed methods, which is the connection and commitment to the amount of work required to be achieved and accomplished, not the number of working hours.”
Since 2020, many firms have been allowing remote work for convenience. Abbas notes that “many companies and institutions have become able to work remotely, i.e., outside the workplace, and therefore there are not a few who are not present on a daily basis at their workplace, due to the flexibility of work and the development of follow-up and management methods followed by several companies and institutions, including banks.” Therefore, daylight-saving time will not have a huge impact on the productivity of employees or the firm’s profit.
Between supporters and opponents, daylight-saving time will start being implemented in a few days. It is a good way to save energy, but whether it will be of great benefit to the economy or not is yet to be seen.
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