Poor management collapsing power sector - John Jinapor

Poor management collapsing power sector - John Jinapor
Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Zaina Adamu | Twitter: @ZainaAdamu
Date: 05-04-2019 Time: 10:04:52:am
South Africa and Nigeria have also experienced severe power outages since March.

The recent string of power outages throughout the country has been largely due to ineffective management of the system, former Deputy Minister of Power, John Jinapor, says.

In an interview on the Super Morning Show Friday, he told the show’s host, Daniel Dadzie, that the solution is simple: Both the Energy and Power Ministries should outline a 10-year, comprehensive approach to end what will inevitably become a power crisis.

However, he did admit that swelling crude oil costs and a depreciating cedi are exacerbating the supply.

“In just two years, ECG has reported $3 billion in losses,” he said.

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John Jinapor is the former Deputy Minister of Power

He explained the accumulated debt stemmed from a sharp increase in crude oil prices, which began in 2012.

Prior to dumsor in 2015, oil sold at $30-$40 per barrel. Those figures suddenly doubled and the country scrambled to find funds. At the time, an option would have been to increase electricity bills to meet the demand, but “how can you do that to consumers? If we did that, the industry would have collapsed,” said Jinapor.

Fortunately, the country switched from oil to mostly gas and 80 percent of it was supplied locally, but he cautioned that the country must have some on reserve. 

“The hydro plant can go down at any time,” he warned.

Meanwhile, Ghanaians are reeling from the lack of power. When the outages began in late March in Kokomlemle, residents pleaded for a response from the government after a lack of supply left them in darkness for days.

Kwesi Owusu is a tailor whose work has been “hugely affected” due to lack of electricity. “Clients are disappointed. Government must fix this problem,” he told Joy FM.

Another resident, Joseph, owns a barbershop and has resorted to cutting hair manually. “I had to turn away most of my clients. It’s pathetic.”

PDS Accra East Region Public Relations Officer, Isaac Nurris Ainooson, told Joy FM last Saturday that what caused the problem was from a faulty joint in the power lines.

He explained that in March and April specifically, extreme heat temps and the corresponding need of electricity overwhelms the power grid, leading to blackouts.

Ainooson would not confirm nor deny whether the power would remain steady, although he did mention that the problem has been temporarily fixed.

Read more: The fundamentals of recent power outages across the country

“We’ve had to throw away food, which comes at a cost. Some of us had to sleep outside because there’s no air coming into the room,” said another Accra resident living in Madina, where the power also cut out for several days. It’s frustrating.”

In 2016, ECG’s Ashanti regional public relations officer, Erasmus Baidoo, told Al Jazeera that one of the major problems with Ghana’s power supply is because “people try to cheat the system.”

He explained that only approximately 40 percent of ECG (now PDS) customers pay their bills, causing the company to be in millions of dollars in debt.

"What about the 60 percent [of customers that don’t pay]?" Baidoo asked. "Are you going to arrest everybody? Will you deny them power because they have not paid their bills?"

Last year, Energy Minister debunked rumours that dumsor was making a comeback.

"We’re not in an era of ‘dum koraaa.’ 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,” he said.

He continued: “We have people here to manage the system, and we can give assurance to Ghanaians that the situation now is very much under control."