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27.03.2007 General News

Businesses wail over impact of energy crisis

By myjoyonline

There is growing uneasiness about the worsening energy supply situation in the country.

For many who have had to put up with the exercise for the past seven months, the situation has become unbearable. Despite assurances from government that measures had been taken to temporarily ease the supply shortfall, the situation has worsened, with dire consequences for consumers especially industry which is expected to cut back on electricity consumption by some 25 per cent.

Joy News was in town to seek views of small and big business owners about the impact on their livelihoods and sustenance.

Rebecca Mensah is one of those whose livelihood has been affected by the power crisis. She is a mother of five and sells foodstuff at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle here in Accra.

She tells Joy News the load shedding has often plunged her into debt, as most of her foodstuffs rot when power goes out.

“It is disturbing us a lot and at times when the light goes off and the following day when the light comes back, it keeps going on and off then by the time you realise everything has gone bad. So these days I do not buy things that would let me lose money,” she said.

The power crisis has rendered John Atipoe, an electrician and father of four, unemployed. He cannot work because his electrical shop is almost always shut due to the load shedding.

“Where I am going to work there is no power. Most work relies on power to function. Now most of the factories have closed down but they tell us that they have brought the plant but we see nothing. We the masses are suffering,” he said.

Atipoe's electrical shop is not the only business affected by the power rationing exercise. Big companies like the mines and aluminium firms are beginning to feel the bite of the power shortage.

The situation is even critical for heavy industries such as GHACEM. Already the energy crisis has forced a shortage of cement, with consequences for the construction industry.

Chief Executive of the Chamber of Mines, Madam Joyce Aryee, says the next two months will be critical.

“Things should start getting better and perhaps by the end of the year even better still. But if not then naturally one would have to take a serious consideration of several things,” she said.

With industry cutting back on power from Wednesday along with all others, jobs may have to be cut. Alternative energy from generators will not come cheap, production costs would have to go up, and goods will become more expensive.

The Managing Director of Camelot Ghana Limited, Madam Elizabeth Villars, said the situation would worsen if it remains the same.

“The issue is if we have to cut down 35 per cent in production some may even have to lay off people because you cannot have everybody there when you cannot produce up to your optimum. The cost is high and it may create undue inflation,” she said.

Economists at the Centre for Policy Analysis forecast the energy crisis will affect the country development and growth for this year. They say the growth rates of 6.5 percent will not be met if the energy crisis persists, without any real interventions.