Ghana’s Power Supply Situation And Fears About Return Of Dumsor

Ghana’s Power Supply Situation And Fears About Return Of Dumsor

  • Rampant unannounced power cuts in large areas of the country in the last couple of days have prompted concerns about the return of dumsor
  • Experts are also worried about what they say is the country's inability to meet the growing demand for electricity consumption
  • Answers from the Energy Ministry and available data show that while the unannounced power cuts are legitimate sources of concern, they do not prove that dumsor is back

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In the last couple of days, fears of a possible return of dumsor, i.e. constant and sometimes scheduled power cuts, have increased due to the growing unannounced cuts in electricity supply to parts of the country.’s monitoring of these unannounced power cuts in the Greater Accra Region alone shows that since Sunday, May 8, 2022, at least one heavily populated area experiences a power outage for a minimum of one hour and a maximum of up to 12 hours.

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Gridco lines and dumsor
The Grid Company (GRIDCo) has said repeatedly that it has enough power to transmit to ECG. Source: Facebook/@SciencePhotoLibrary, @ECGghOfficial
Source: Facebook

These unexpected power outages, according to some experts in the sector, are early signs of the return of dumsor, a term that brings back dark memories of the 2009 to 2011 debilitating power situation in Ghana.

What is fueling experts’ fears?

Charles Wereko-Brobby, popularly known as Tarzan, an energy expert and a founding member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) thinks the signs of dumsor are quite easy to see. He said on Monday, May 9, 2022, that there is a growing demand for electricity without a long-term plan by the government on how to meet this rising hunger for power.

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“If you don’t plan for the new demand, you will find yourself in a new situation where dumsor will return in a big way,” he warned.

He said while the government is quick to blame technical challenges for the announced power cuts for hours in some areas, they could well be another early sign of imminent dumsor.

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Dr Wereko-Brobby is not alone in this thinking that Ghana is facing a serious challenge to meeting power demands. Former Deputy Energy Minister, John Jinapor, and former Power Minister, Kwabena Donkor, both members of the opposition party, say a looming threat of a huge power supply deficit stares Ghana in the face.

Hanging on to the details of a press briefing by the Energy Ministry recently, John Jinapor said Ghana currently has a peak demand of 3,469MW against a dependable capacity of 3,861MW. He said the resultant capacity of 392MW, called the reserve margin, is well below what the Energy Commission recommends should be kept as “insurance”. The ultimate scenario would be for Ghana to have a dependable capacity of 4,096MW and not 3861MW.

Unfounded concerns reached out to the Energy Ministry with these concerns. According to the PRO of the Ministry, Kwasi Obeng-Fosu, the fears by the energy experts are speculative.

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“Ghana has enough generation capacity. Indeed, the projected demand by the Energy Commission points to enough generation capacity spanning 2023 to 2027. Government is of the view that, there must be a prudent addition to the generation capacity in order not to get the country into over-capacity and its associated issues, and that the addition must be premised on projected demand,” he explained.

Currently, Ghana has a total installed capacity of 5358.50MW, against a current peak demand of 3,469MW which was recorded on March 18, 2022. This, according to the Energy Ministry Spokesperson, is another evidence that fears of a return of dumsor are not grounded on evidence.

Government has also dispelled attempts to compare the current situation to the dumsor era of 2009 to 2011. Available data show that three things caused the dreaded dumsor under former President John Mahama: 1. poor hydrology due to over drafting of Ghana's hydro dams, 2. inadequate fuel supply to thermal plants, and 3. financial challenges.

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So is dumsor back?

Why are large parts of the country facing unannounced power cuts? The Energy Ministry PRO provides this answer:

“In the energy sector, you are basically dealing with machines. Just like your car sometimes, you would expect that it will serve you smoothly but midway to your workplace or destination, it develops some technical faults. This is the situation sometimes with our power value chain infrastructure.”

Both the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) the power transmitter and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the power distributor have issued statements to explain the cause of unannounced power cuts, none of which point to the inability to meet electricity supply demands. GRIDCo blamed the last near-nationwide power outage on a “system disturbance”.

Is dumsor back? Well, no. While the concerns about economic effects of heavy load-shedding are legitimate, there is evidence of enough capacity to meet demand.

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Four Reasons ECG And Ghana Water Want Over 100% Tariff Increases

Meanwhile, previously presented four reasons the ECG and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) are pushing for over 100% increases in tariffs for 2022.

While the ECG wants tariffs to be increased by 148% for 2022 and again by 7.6% between 2023 to 2026, the GWCL wants tariffs to be increased by a whopping 334%.

In a report to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), the regulator of utility tariffs and quality of service, the two utility companies have appealed for the proposals to be approved.

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