Ghana’s Government Fixes Electricity Supply Deficit That Caused Years of Frequent Blackouts

Ghana’s government said on Wednesday it had fixed an electricity supply deficit that caused years of frequent blackouts that hurt businesses and angered voters ahead of an election next year.

The cuts known as “dumsor” in Ghana have been a hot political topic with many residents suffering 24-hour blackouts that cut off household water supply.

President John Mahama promised in February to fix the problem by the New Year and, in a measure of the political seriousness of the issue, Power Minister Kwabena Donkor said he would resign if the deadline was not met.

“The Ministry of Power wishes to inform the public that its Load Shedding programme in respect of electricity supply has been brought to an end,” a government statement said.

Load shedding denotes planned power rationing to prevent a nationwide blackout. Donkor has previously made a distinction between ending load shedding and ending power cuts, and the statement did not say that all blackouts would end.

The power crisis began in 2012, the year of the last election, and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) says it is a sign of the government’s failure to manage the broader economy of the West African state.

For years, Ghana had some of the fastest growth rates in Africa through exports of oil, gold and cocoa but lower global prices have slowed growth. The government is also following an International Monetary Fund programme to stabilize its economy.

“To end load shedding means that you have adequate reserves in the system but the truth of the matter is that we don’t have sufficient margin reserves,” opposition policy adviser Boakye Agyarko told Reuters.

Ghana will be vulnerable to power cuts once the holiday period ends and businesses resume and the government lacks money to pay fuel bills needed to keep the system running, he said.

A newly-installed power generation ship contracted from independent Turkish producer Karpowership should generate 235 megawatts of electricity daily to help offset a national deficit of around 500 megawatts, the government said.

Even so, Ghana has not installed enough extra capacity to offset the deficit and cope with demand growth, said Ben Boakye, director of operations at the influential Africa Centre for Energy Policy think tank, which is based in Accra. (Editging by Richard Balmforth)

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