Ghana, already embroiled in its worst economic crisis in recent memory, now confronts a severe power outage crisis, with large parts of the nation plunged into darkness. This latest challenge stems from acute gas shortages at a major power facility in Tema, east of the capital, Accra, exacerbating the country’s struggles.
The Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) reported a significant “supply gap of 550MW at peak time” due to “limited gas supply” at the Tema power installation. This shortfall has led to widespread power blackouts, known locally as “dumsor” (meaning “on and off” in Akan), a term that has become synonymous with Ghana’s persistent power struggles. The West African nation, which relies heavily on natural gas for power generation, has been battling these outages for many years, reflecting deeper issues in maintaining its hydro and thermal power sources.
A study released in June by the Centre for Socioeconomic Studies (CSS) painted a grim picture of Ghana’s energy provision, describing it as “critically unhealthy and tottering towards a power crisis.” The study warns that the energy crisis is expected to worsen in the coming years starting from 2023, and calls for urgent, purposeful, and significant investment to address the precarious situation.
Compounding the power crisis are Ghana’s broader economic woes, characterized by high inflation, a plummeting local currency, mounting debts, and a federal budget strained by high energy sector costs amid low public revenues. These economic shocks have led to multiple hikes in energy tariffs, with electricity prices soaring by over 18% in May, followed by a nearly 30% increase earlier in the year and another 4% hike last month.
In July, independent power producers in Ghana threatened to shut down operations over arrears owed by the state-run Electricity Company of Ghana. This looming threat adds to the nation’s challenges, already burdened by a biting cost-of-living crisis. Protests have broken out across the country with anti-government sentiments, with many calling for change within the government and even the removal of the current chairperson of the nation’s central bank due to corruption and mismanagement.
As Ghana grapples with these multifaceted challenges, GRIDCo has not provided a definitive timeline for restoring electricity to the affected areas. Due to the nation’s heavy reliance on gas as a major source of energy, any shortage in fuel results in significant power outages. This leaves residents and businesses in a state of uncertainty and distress, further straining an already fragile economic environment.
The crisis at hand not only highlights the immediate need for a robust solution to the power shortages but also underscores the urgency for broader economic reforms. As the nation awaits a resolution, the Ghanaian government faces mounting pressure to stabilize both its power infrastructure and the economy at large.