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Power supply worsens in Ghana, citizens lament

AKOSOMBO DAM SIDE VIEW

Ghana attained independence on March 6, 1960, and its founding father, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah established the first power generation hub, The Akosombo Dam with the sole aim of powering the new Ghana into an industrial country.

The Akosombo Dam has the capacity to supply energy to the sub-region and other countries. It is ,however, ironic that 58 years down the line, the biggest challenge is the shortage of power supply popularly known as Dumsor dumsor.

Dumsor dumsor which means lights out! didn’t just start in Ghana. For 20 years, successive governments have not given the power sector the needed financial and skill capability needed to ensure Ghanaians continued to enjoy electricity, while some political parties have seized the opportunity to make political leverage out of the situation.

Under former President John Kuffor administration, dumsor reared its ugly head and  the opposition party, the National Democratic Party (NDC) staged a peaceful protest.

The NPP’s government, under the leadership of President Kuffor, signed numerous agreements with private power generating companies. Notable was the commencement of the Boewe Dam with the promise of extra mega watt of power to support the Akosumbo Dam.

However, overtime, this ugly epidemic has eaten deep into the country’s energy and power sector and it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

 

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY WORSE THAN EVER

The situation today is so bad that it’s affecting the nation’s economy dramatically. Both local and multi -national companies are now on the verge of folding up, if urgent measures are not taken. The need for both small and medium scale businesses to survive now depends on generator or solar power which is not affordable to the majority of the citizenry. Domestically, households and restaurant operators complain they can hardly store food items due to power failure.

Also, the sound of generator can be heard in almost every household, office and in the market where small scale business operators and entrepreneurs now depend on other means of power supply.

In an interview with some phone operators and repairers, they spoke bitterly about the situation, stating they now experience a drastic reduction in their profit margins (up to 50 percent or more) due to constant purchase of fuel for their generators, to enable them meet the never ending demand by their customers for quality and fast services.

 

OPPOSITION STAGES PEACEFUL PROTEST

In this regard, the opposition party, National Patriotic Party (NPP)  led by the three time presidential candidate, Nana Akufo Addo, with party supporters and non party members came out in their thousands to stage a peaceful, yet massive demonstration tagged : Won Gbo, which means, we are suffering, at the nation’s capital city, Accra and in Kumasi, the Ashanti region to also express their grievances, because while it seems the President Mahama led administration is doing all it can to restore the nation’s energy sector to its former state, the situation appears to be getting worse as the citizens now experience 24 to 48 hour lights off and 12  hour light on or less.

Reacting to the demonstration by the opposition party, President Mahama stated that such action went a long way to encourage and inspire him to put in his best to fight this power epidemic and put it under control. Some members of the ruling party thus asked the opposition to offer alternative solution as their recommendation would be welcomed. And for their response, your guess is as good as mine.

 

PRESIDENT MAHAMA PLEDGES TO IMPROVE POWER SUPPLY

However, President John Dramani Mahama, in his 2015 state of the nation address to the Ghanaian parliament stated the following regarding the energy/power sector…

“We have been here before. In 1983, 1998 and 2006/7, we suffered a similar occurrence. In the past, what we did was to manage the situation. I do not intend to manage the situation as has been done in the past. I intend to fix it! I owe it to the Ghanaian people. I, John Dramani Mahama, will fix this energy challenge.

Perhaps, the impact of the energy shortage is felt much greater today, not only because of the growth of our economy, but also because many more people have access to electricity than in the past. Access to electricity in Ghana is second to South Africa in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Furthermore, changes in the architectural design of many homes and offices require the use of more air-conditioners to maintain a bearable temperature most times of the year. Our rapidly growing population is also driving increasing demand for power supply. All these together with other structural and generational issues have contributed to electricity supply gap that has oscillated between 300 and 600 MW.

The lessons we must learn from all these is to plan better.

“First, our demand for power is estimated to be growing in excess of 10 percent per annum. It means conservatively, we would have to double our electricity supply capacity every eight years if we are to keep up with demand.

“If we are to achieve energy security into the future, we must complete the reform of our power sector. The new Ministry of Power is working urgently on proposals to restructure the power sector beginning with the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Bui Power Authority (BPA). The intention would be to bring the management of our hydro plants under one entity.”

 

Other measures taken by the government as stated by the President includes:

The carving out of the new Ministry of Power from the former Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. This is meant to give a sharper focus and effort to the resolution of the present energy shortfall. As an immediate measure to resolve the current crisis.

The Ministry of Power estimates that this emergency power can be rolled out in months to bring relief to the system while the more permanent plants are being worked on. I would hold the minister to his publicly stated commitment to resolve the electricity supply deficit by the end of this year.

 

The commitment of government is to fully incorporate renewable energy into the supply mix. A number of solar, wind, tidal wave and biomass projects are being pursued. And prepaid solar metre scheme would be launched to enable residents of remote off-grid communities own and enjoy solar lighting as a private sector activity facilitated by the government.

Following power purchase agreements entered into with several Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and plants that VRA is currently working on, we expect, starting from this year and over five years to inject 3,665 MW of power into our power transmission grid.

 

Additionally, completion of planned steam generation units on some current single cycle plants, namely TT1, CENIT and KTPP would add another 330 MW to our generation. When this planned addition of 3,800 MW to our generation is realized, it will assure our energy security into the future.

 

THE BREAKDOWN IS AS FOLLOWS:

Sunon Asogli (Phase II) – 360MW

Sunon Asogli (Coal fired) – 750MW

CenPower – 350MW

Jacobsen – 360MW

Amandi – 240MW

GE – 1000MW

VRA (T4) – 185MW

VRA (KTPP) – 220MW

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