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25.04.2007 Feature Article

LOAD SHEDDING – GHANA NOT THE ONLY CASUALTY

In his State of the Nation address delivered to Ghanaians on February 8, 2007 President Kufuor out-lined short and long term measures that his government was taking to address the situation once and for all.

Among the short term measures he stated was the importation of a total of 200 megawatts of electricity from Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire (80 from Nigeria and 120 from Cote d'Ivoire) within two weeks of the announcement. This according to the authorities concerned did not materialize due to some technical problems.

As this was the only immediate measure that could have alleviated the problem, many Ghanaians were really disappointed. Some enquires were made on Cote d'Ivoire, the nearest of one of the two countries which should have assisted to brighten our nights, to ascertain the form of technical difficulties being encountered. The information gathered is indeed interesting.

La Cote d'Ivoire has began a load-shedding exercise in some parts of its capital Abidjan. They include Port Bout, Marcory, and Cocody. Other parts of the capital which have been affected by the load shedding programme are Koumassi and Gonzaqueville. This according to the information gathered is as a result of a reduction in the country's hydroelectric output as well as a reduction in its gas supplies needed to power its thermal plants.

Three years of shortfall in rainfall has prevented the country's hydroelectric power plants from achieving maximum output.
Also, there is not enough natural gas to power the country's thermal plants from which it draws 70% of its energy needs with an installed capacity of 606 megawatts. Currently the thermal plants produce a total of 400 megawatts, creating a deficit of 206 megawatts.

Another reason for the load-shedding programme in Cote d'Ivoire is the increase in national demand without a corresponding increase in investment in the sector. It is estimated that national consumption will increase by over 6% this year.

It is mainly for these reasons that Cote d'Ivoire was unable to fulfill its promise to Ghana. Indeed Cote d'Ivoire has also suspended power supply to Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Especially with the shortfall in rainfall in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, it is becoming obvious that this is a sub-regional problem. For whatever reasons, our water bodies are drying up and it is among other things, having an effect on our power generation capacity.

It is most unfortunate that after encountering this load-shedding programme in 1984 and then again ten years later in 1994 we did not put in place measures to ensure a lasting solution? Probably if we had secured the loan to start the Bui dam project we would at least be nearing completion. Instead we sat waiting for another hit of power shortage in 1998! So, in 14 years we have been hit 3 solid times with a low power-leading to- load shedding situation without any reply. Unpleasant to state: but this is irresponsibility at its apex by any country.

Ghanaians are hoping that the measures that were stated in the President's State of the Nation Address will be implemented to the letter so that our dear country will never encounter such an unpleasant and embarrassing situation again.

Yao Dagadu
[email protected]

Yao Dagadu
Yao Dagadu, © 2007

This author has authored 9 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: YaoDagadu

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