Thu, 28 Mar 2024 Feature Article

The High Cost of Electricity and Dumsor: A Dual Challenge to the Livelihood of Ghanaians

The High Cost of Electricity and Dumsor: A Dual Challenge to the Livelihood of Ghanaians

In Ghana, the populace grapples with two major electricity-related challenges that significantly impact their daily lives and economic activities: the high cost of electricity and the persistent issue of dumsor (a local term for power outages). Together, these issues create a compounded problem that affects all strata of Ghanaian society, from urban centers to rural areas, and from large industries to small households. The repercussions on the livelihood of Ghanaians are profound, affecting economic growth, healthcare, education, and the general quality of life.

Economic Strain on Households and Businesses

The high cost of electricity places a significant financial burden on Ghanaian households, many of which allocate a substantial portion of their income to energy expenses. For families living on the edge of poverty, this can mean making tough choices between essential needs such as food, healthcare, and education. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which form the backbone of Ghana’s economy, also feel the pinch. The elevated energy costs reduce their competitiveness, eat into their profits, and, in some cases, lead to downsizing or closure. When coupled with dumsor, the situation worsens. To mitigate the impact of erratic power supply, businesses and households resort to alternative power sources like generators, which are not only expensive to purchase but also costly to run due to high fuel prices. This double jeopardy of high electricity tariffs and the additional cost of alternative power sources exacerbates the economic strain on the already burdened populace.

Impact on Healthcare and Education
The healthcare sector suffers tremendously from the dual challenges of high electricity costs and unreliable power supply. Hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas, struggle to maintain the cold chain for vaccines, operate medical equipment, and provide emergency services during power outages. The resultant effect is a compromise on the quality of healthcare delivery and, in dire situations, loss of lives. Education, a critical driver of development, is also impacted. Schools that rely on electricity for lighting, ventilation, and educational technology face disruptions during power outages. The high cost of electricity further limits the resources that educational institutions can dedicate to technological advancements, thereby affecting the quality of education and widening the digital divide.

Social and Environmental Consequences

On a social level, the high cost of electricity and dumsor contribute to increased stress and anxiety among Ghanaians, who constantly worry about their ability to afford electricity bills and cope with the unpredictability of power supply. Environmentally, the frequent use of diesel or petrol generators as a stopgap during power outages leads to increased carbon emissions, contributing to air pollution and climate change.

The Way Forward
Addressing the intertwined challenges of high electricity costs and dumsor requires a holistic approach that involves government, the private sector, and international partners. Investments in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro could provide more affordable and reliable electricity.

Additionally, enhancing the efficiency of existing power infrastructure and encouraging energy conservation practices among consumers could alleviate some of the financial burdens.

Policy reforms aimed at subsidizing electricity costs for vulnerable populations and SMEs could provide immediate relief while long-term solutions are being implemented.

Moreover, strengthening the regulatory framework to ensure fair pricing and promoting competition in the energy sector could lead to lower electricity tariffs. Conclusion The high cost of electricity and the challenge of dumsor are critical issues that require urgent attention to safeguard the livelihood of Ghanaians.

As Ghana strives towards economic development and improved quality of life for its citizens, addressing these electricity-related challenges is paramount. Through concerted efforts, innovative solutions, and sustainable practices, Ghana can overcome these hurdles, paving the way for a brighter, more prosperous future.

Building The Ghana We Want Together
Michael Agbesi Kelly