Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Power outages: stakeholders share concerns




Adnan Adams Mohammed

Sections of the Ghanaian public who are major stakeholders and consumers of electricity have shared their concerns on recent erratic power outages raising serious issues igniting further debate. 

One of such stakeholders is an energy expert, Dr Yussif Sulemana who has called on Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) to be transparent with the general public and industry players in the energy sector.

The Ghana’s power transmitter, GRIDCo, in recent time have been given different excuses as the cause of recent erratic power outages while the ministry of energy is also giving different account which is daunting the credibility of information from the power sector players.

"Finances may not seem to be the problem but the company must be real with issues and be transparent", Dr Yussif emphasized during an interview last week on the current power situation. Adding that, “We have a potential generation capacity of closer to 5000 megawatts and our pick demand barely reaches 3000 megawatts and so ordinarily one should be expected that we would be able to supply the power to the competitive user. Despite the fact that we have this excess generation capacity, power is still not readily affordable and now the availability is also threatened and these are key to the security of power supply to household, to industry. We need to guarantee the availability of power, the dependability of power and then we need to guarantee the affordability of power and so the situation gets even worse if power is not dependable,” he said.

Meanwhile, cold store operators at the Asafo Market in Kumasi, the Ashanti regional capital, say they are gradually losing their business due to the erratic power supply.

According to them, they have had to dispose of hundreds of cartons of spoilt fish due to months of unreliable power supply.

The traders have also been saddled with the cost of repairing their huge industrial fridges that have broken down as a result of the power challenges.

They are therefore calling on the government to publish a load shedding timetable to enable them plan for their trade activities in the area.

A EIB’s report from Ashanti regional reported that, the cold store operators are angry that the government has failed to issue a timetable and also failed to truthfully acknowledge that the Ashanti region is suffering from severe power cuts.

Apparently, according to the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has disclosed that due to ongoing upgrade works on the Kasoa and Pokuase substations, there will be erratic power supply in May.

“Just two days ago, I received a letter from MiDA [Millennium Development Authority], who are helping upgrade the Pokuase and Kasoa substations.

“They informed me that the progress of the substation is such that in the month of May, there will be systematic power outages, so, we have invited both ECG and GRIDCo and in the light of that, let us sit and plan and communicate with the people who will be affected way before it happens”, Dr Prempeh made this known at a forum in Accra, last week. 

Also, speaking to journalists during a tour of some GRIDCo facilities, the energy minister noted, the intermittent power cuts are a result of system challenges and, thus, cannot be likened to the four-year power outages experienced under former President John Mahama from 2012 to 2016 due to production and financial problems, which necessitated a load-shedding timetable for the whole country.

However, Dr Yussif enumerated further suggestions stating that, to ensure power affordability there is the need to bridge the dependability gap before the country thinks about affordability. Adding that, retooling of the company and its operations is needed but will also demand some extra cost.

“Just walk step backwards and you end up seeing the issue of finance. First of all, why do we have an issue with obsolete equipment? We have an issue of obsolete equipment because we don’t have proper maintenance or probably due to the fact that we haven’t retooled them and everything will come back to finance as a matter of fact,” he added.

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