Some energy experts in Ghana say government is not telling Ghanaians the truth about the real situation in the country’s power sector.
According to them, government’s claim that there was no load-shedding in parts of the country currently was untrue.
Addressing Muslims on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday, the president attributed the recent power outages to “sabotage” in Nigeria which he claimed was preventing the supply of crude oil to power the country’s thermal plants.
President John Mahama said he would not declare a return to load shedding despite admitting challenges with power supply in the country.
The country is experiencing power outages after a few months of relief from the four-year power crisis known as ‘dumsor.’
Dr. Steve Manteaw, Executive Director, Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), in an interview with BUSINESS GUIDE yesterday said “we are not being told the truth about the situation in the power sector. If this is not load-shedding, then I don’t know what it is. Load-shedding is not what people say it is; it is what we experience or feel. What the president is saying is part of the politics.”
The actual problem is that government does not have money to purchase fuel to power the thermal plants, Dr. Manteaw said.
“If you were to look at the budget for 2016, you would find that government projected its revenue based on oil production of 104,000 barrels per day.
“For most part of the year, we have been producing oil around 30,000 barrels a day, a shortfall of about 74,000 barrels. That is lost potential revenue. In addition to this, government projected that it would be selling its oil at about $52 per barrel. However, the price per barrel of oil has been way below the $52 for most part of the year.
“So putting the two together, our revenue shortfall is pretty huge, especially in respect of oil production. This has amounted to revenue deficit in government’s budget coupled with the decline in commodity prices.”
According to Dr. Manteaw, the country’s high debts had put a major huge strain on the country’s fiscals which impede its ability to finance the purchase of fuel for power generation.
Expert Challenges Mahama
Dr Mutaka Alolo, Executive Director of Institute of Energy and Climate Change Policy (IECP), has also challenged President John Mahama’s assertion that the current shortfall in power was temporary, stressing that the days of load-shedding were back.
He said measures being put in place by government to deal with the current power challenge were short-term which would not address the problem comprehensively.
“It is obvious that we are back where we were before, and most people have said it in the past that temporary solutions that government brought would not last and that is what we are experiencing now,” Dr Alolo told Accra-based Joy Fm.
Meanwhile, the Power Ministry has said the interruptions in electricity supply were as a result of force majeure caused by unprecedented vandalism of major pipelines and five terminals in Nigeria that had affected supply of light crude.
Noting that the contracted supplier would deliver crude in the shortest possible time, the Ministry said the non-availability of gas from the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) has led to a switch from gas to light crude as fuel to fire a number of thermal plants, which has resulted in a stretch of the consumption rate to conserve the limited stock.
Also, it said the Akosombo Dam was at a record low, adding that had limited the amount of electricity generated from the plant.
Additionally, it said efforts were underway by BOST to secure strategic reserves of fuel to mitigate any future emergencies.
The Ministry said following extensive consultation among the power sector stakeholders, the electricity billing system had been realigned and all anomalies had been corrected.
“Consequently, customers of ECG and NEDCO are expected to enjoy some relief in the amount paid for electricity consumption. A new ‘reckoner’ which brings clarity and better understanding of the billing system is being published by the utility companies.
“The reckoner shall be deployed to all district and regional offices of ECG/NEDCO, as well as Customer Service Centres to assist consumers accordingly.”
By Cephas Larbi