April 19, 2024
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The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), a government-operated power provider, on Thursday temporarily disconnected electricity to the parliamentary complex to compel the legislative body to settle an outstanding debt of 23 million Ghanaian cedis (approximately $1.8 million). 

Footage distributed by local news outlets captured the moment lawmakers were left in darkness within the parliamentary chamber following the power outage, leading them to collectively chant “dumsor, dumsor,” which means black-out in Twi, the local language. 

William Boateng, the communications director of ECG, informed Reuters that the decision to disconnect power was made after the legislature did not respond to notices demanding payment. 

This aggressive strategy emerges as Ghana’s power industry deals with extensive unpaid bills, causing an uptick in electricity outages amidst ongoing tensions between the government and power generation companies. 

Boateng explained that disconnecting the parliament’s power supply is a standard tactic employed by ECG to motivate customers with outstanding bills to settle their debts. 

He said,  “Disconnections are for everybody; anyone who doesn’t pay and fails to make arrangements, the team will disconnect.

“They paid 13 million cedi ($1 million) and promised to pay the rest in a week, so our guys reconnected them.”

Meanwhile, a Ghanaian lawmaker, Edward Bawa, disclosed that a power failure led to a fellow parliamentarian and several staff members being caught in elevator lifts.

“The whole sector is suffering under debt and these are some of the consequences,” Bawa said.  The energy authority in Ghana stated in April 2023 that the country has an installed energy capacity of 5,454 MW, out of which 4,483 MW is operational.

Ghana’s thermal power generation is fueled largely by natural gas, but occasionally using light crude oil and diesel.  

The West African country exports power to Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso. 

The government has been seeking to restructure the power sector and seal a debt deal with independent power producers (IPP) as it grapples with its worst economic crisis in a generation, characterised by double-digit inflation and ballooning public debt. 

In July last year, independent power producers reached an interim deal with the ECG over arrears owed to them but promised to shut down their plants if the issue remained unsolved. 

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