It’s fair to say that it’s now official that some parts of the country will be experiencing intermittent power outages, popularly referred to as ‘dumsor’, for the next few weeks.
The Greater Accra and Ashanti regions have been the most hit, with residents of these regions lamenting the unannounced power outages.
At a news conference on Monday, the Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, assured that the erratic power supply witnessed in the last couple of weeks will be resolved soon.
But it making that assurance, he also all but confirmed that ‘dumsor’ is back, by saying: “The lights may go off as we are witnessing, but I can assure you that, that long period that we envisaged that our opponents think that they want to capitalize on, that period will never come because we’re managing the system.”
Below are three reasons why Ghanaians are experiencing power outages:
1. Government’s inability to reach agreement with WAGPA
The main cause of the recent power outages is government’s inability to reach an agreement with the West African Gas Pipeline Authority (WAGPA), concerning charges for the transfer of gas from the Western part of the country to the East.
According to the Energy Minister, the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCO) wanted an amount in the region of US$3.2 per MMBtu as tariff but government was only willing to pay US$1 per MMBtu.
“Our major challenge has been the incomplete reverse flow project to flow gas from the West to the East. We had to fast-track it through a by-pass which has been completed, but not connected to the West African Gas Pipeline yet. This is because WAGPA has not come out with the tariff for the reverse flow, and WAPCO will not sign the Gas Transportation Agreement (GTA) without a tariff.
“WAPCO wants to charge US $3.2 MMBtu, whilst we want to pay US$1 MMBtu,” Mr. Amewu said, adding that both parties have now reached an agreement for a new tariff of US$1.7 per MMBTu which the government finds more favourable.
2. Debts owed by power companies
It has emerged that many of the power companies in Ghana are in huge debts, which has partly accounted for the recent power outages.
The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) have all run into huge debts.
For instance, as of July 2018, ECG was the most indebted agency within the energy sector with a debt of almost Ghc1 billion.
Such debts been piling with successive governments and the consequences if the inability of the sector to hold firm.
3. Bad contracts
Also, there have been revelations that one of the causes of the power outages is the many power contracts and agreements entered into in the past, which are not in the interest of the country.
The Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) maintains that these bad contracts have played a huge role in upping the debts in the energy sector.
“The power sector is living on steroids because the fundamentals haven’t shifted much. We had a crisis and moving out of the crisis we were just signing PPAs, contracts without a careful projection of what the real demand is. If we have excess beyond what we need, that becomes a debt on us. We kept signing and now we have the PPAs maturing,” Executive Director of ACEP, Ben Boakye told Accra-based Citi FM.
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