Public Agenda (Accra)

2 April 2012

Ghana: Erratic Power Supply - Ghanaians Deserve to Know What Is Amiss

Three months into 2012, which happens to be an election year, Ghana has experienced three major worrying power outages that have raised serious concerns about the nation's energy sufficiency and security.

Though Ghanaians are not new to erratic power supply, the recent nation-wide outages are causing a great deal of anxiety and discomfort for many people because the reason for the current trends is shrouded in mystery. Although the energy providers, on all occasions attributed the blackout to system failure, the fact that all the three incidents occurred within about three months suggests that there is something seriously wrong with our national power supply system.

Public Agenda therefore urges the Volta River Authority (VRA), the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) to be forthright with consumers while they take immediate steps to rectify the situation before it gets out of control.

At a time when the government is making strenuous efforts to woo foreign investors into the country, it is imperative not to give signals of unstable and unreliable power supply to the investors.

We are not oblivious of the fact that these blackouts are the result of technical challenges but these are not beyond human ingenuity. The need to fix them is all-important, given the fact that the United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

There already exists a triangular blame game among the country's power generators, transmitters and suppliers (see our front page banner headlined VRA, ECG, GRIDco in blame game...). While the VRA says the current intermittent widespread outages experienced by consumers in various parts of Ghana are due to transmission and distribution problems which GRIDCo and ECG are facing, the ECG and GRIDCo have unequivocally refuted the claims of the VRA.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy's ultimatum to the power service providers to investigate the cause of the recent nationwide power outages and report to the sector Minister seems unheeded as nothing has yet been said or heard from the VRA, ECG and GRIDCo on the blackouts.

If the situation persists, Ghanaians will have no option than to hold the Minister and his staff accountable for the prevailing power cuts. Failure to exercise effective ministerial oversight and to deliver efficient services constitute non-performance and the governments must be made to suffer for it.

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