(Bloomberg) -- Egypt is curbing some electricity use to free up for export more of the natural gas that feeds its power plants, helping generate much-needed foreign currency, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said.

Lighting in streets, public squares and larger sports facilities will all be reduced and illuminations outside government buildings switched off after working hours, Madbouly said Tuesday in a press conference. 

The belt-tightening is a sign of the lengths Egypt is going to earn more hard currency as it copes with the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the Arab world’s most populous nation. The conflict has sent Egypt’s wheat and fuel bills soaring, put pressure on its currency and led to Gulf allies pledging more than $20 billion in support.

At the same time, Europe’s gas crunch is giving Egypt, where the giant Zohr offshore natural-gas field was discovered in 2015, a key role in the continent’s energy plans. In June, Egypt signed a deal with Israel to boost gas sales to the European Union.

Egypt, which previously used 60% of its gas to generate electricity, has instead been using mazut, a heavy fuel oil, at some power plants since October, Madbouly said. That’s helped build a gas surplus for export, generating $100 million to $150 million per month, according to the prime minister.

Other measures to cut electricity consumption include setting a 25-degree-centigrade limit to how low air-conditioning in the nation’s shopping malls can go, the premier said. He called on Egyptians to recognize the scale of the crisis.

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