For the past few weeks, the country has been experiencing power rationing. Officialdom has offered varied reasons for this state of affairs. The initial reason presented by spokespersons of government was that the West African Gas Pipeline was undergoing some maintenance and, therefore, was not available to transmit gas either from Nigeria or from Aboadze to the Eastern Load Centre (Tema) of the country.
What they never told Ghanaians was that the West African Pipeline Company (WAPCo) had communicated to all off-takers of Nigerian Gas including Ghana in April 2019 that, there was going to be a scheduled maintenance work February this year. The reason for this communication is usually to give the various countries enough time to put in place contingency measures to forestall any challenges that may arise as a result of the curtailment of gas supply.
Fortunately for Ghana most of the thermal plants we have are dual-fueled and, therefore, can switch from gas to liquid fuels. Therefore, the Government had ample time to procure alternative fuels if they were minded to do so and the country would not have found itself in darkness.
By a stroke of good fortune, the maintenance works on the Gas Pipeline was completed ahead of schedule and gas supply has since resumed.
So, what could be the real reason for the continuous power outages? The reason is that government has no money to procure fuel for the power generators to produce power.
Ghana’s power sector is confronted with severe financial threats notwithstanding the energy sector levy (ESLA) introduced by the previous administration and bequeathed to the present Government. Indeed, the sector is currently experiencing an unprecedented financial crisis. The net sector arrears stands at about US$ 4.0 Billion. Of this indebtedness, a whopping US$1.5 Billion is owed to the private sector including IPPs.
If nothing is done, electricity production will grind to a halt and deprive Ghanaians of a regular and adequate supply of power for domestic and commercial use. The current power outages are symptomatic of a bigger problem that will eventually plunge this country into the dreaded dumsor. Government must, therefore, treat this as a national security issue and present a blueprint on how this problem is being resolved. The over flocked excuse of excess capacity isn’t washing. The facts available does not support that narrative.
In the meantime, the government should be honest to Ghanaians and instruct ECG and NEDCo, the two distribution companies, to as a matter of urgency publish a load shedding timetable so that people can plan their lives around this avoidable situation.
EDWARD ABAMBIRE BAWA