Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Electricity Outages In Ghana: Causes, Effects & Solutions

Image Source: wikipedia

Ghana has for several years been experiencing massive power blackouts popularly nicknamed 'dumsor,' which means on & off in one of the local dialects. Although intermittent power is common in most developing African countries, the energy situation in Ghana is already spiraling out of control. Some areas lack electricity for hours on end; others receive multiple power cuts (about five) each day. Sometimes, the blackouts last for extended periods, some lasting longer than 24 hours.

If the current trend is anything to go by, soon Ghana will be wallowing in pitch darkness.

Causes of power outages in Ghana

According to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), most of the power outages should be blamed on inadequate supply of gas from Nigeria. The government has maintained that the current supply is unstable and they can only supply what they get.

On the national front, the government maintains they are doing everything they can and that various projects currently underway will ease the situation by the end of the year. For most Ghanaians though, these are just empty promises that they have heard too many times before.

Peering closer into the energy situation in Ghana, it's clear to see that the sector is marred by lack of direction, mismanagement of resources and a narrow conservative mindset that does not auger well with the energy needs of the 21st Century.

Effects of the power cuts

In the last few weeks, thousands of Ghanaians have taken to demonstrating in the streets to show their displeasure at the power outages. Some of these protests have been violent.

In the deeper context of the matter, the consequences of the power outages are vast. Business owners are no longer attaining the production levels they desire, their profits have dwindled and thousands of people have lost their jobs.

The industrial sector, with its massive energy needs, has been the worst hit. Manufacturers are cutting losses and investors are withdrawing. The economy is ailing and the weakening national currency is portraying that all too well.

Way Forward

1) The country should stop over reliance on Nigeria for its gas supplies. At the minimum, it should store enough gas reserves for contingencies.

2) The country should exploit alternative energy solutions such as wind energy and solar energy.

3) Ghana should privatize the energy sector. This will de-monopolize the industry and allow competition from private companies. Doing so will increase energy supplies, improve on quality and reduce costs in the long run.

Most importantly, president Mahama's government should wake up to the realization that the energy sector is the lifeline of any economy, especially that of an emerging nation.

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