July 16, 2016

Ghana government criticised over power cuts

Ghana’s main opposition party has urged the government to introduce a timetable for rolling power cuts after weeks of outages that have hit homes and businesses across the country.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Thursday criticised President John Dramani Mahama’s administration for not admitting to the problem, which has become known locally as “dumsor”.

“Government will not have a timetable/schedule published because that will amount to an admission of systematic load-shedding/dumsor,” said NPP spokesman Nana Akomea.

“But Ghanaians have been suffering a patterned load-shedding over the last few months. Government’s refusal to acknowledge it and publish a schedule has meant that consumers and industry cannot plan, thus imposing uncertainty on the Ghanaian consumer.”

The insufficient power supply threatens to be a major issue in the presidential election later this year as Mahama seeks to win a second term of office.

In recent years, electricity has been cut for 24 hours at a time, hitting a stuttering economy seeking to recover from a depreciating currency, a yawning public sector deficit and high inflation.

Companies and factories in Ghana are forced to use generators when the public supply goes off, driving up costs.

In 2015, hotels shut down as a result of the problem while the Ghana Employers’ Association said the impact on businesses saw nearly 13,000 workers laid off.

Last month, Ghana’s main airport was brought to a halt because of a power cut.

The government, which has attributed the problem partly to Ghana’s economic success driving up demand for electricity, has introduced some measures to tackle the problem, including the use of a power station on a barge docked off Accra.

Although President Mahama has refused to declare a power crisis, he has promised action to improve power supply, including promoting private sector partnerships to boost renewable energy.

Last week he blamed insufficient electricity supplies on difficulties in obtaining oil from Nigeria, whose output has been hit by an increase in militant attacks on installations and infrastructure in recent months.