Baba Yara Stadium is now ready for CAN 2008.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The energy crisis

In Kumasi the electricity load management and an unpredictable energy supply is putting constraints on businesses, social activities and industry. Economic activities as well as social ones have greatly weakened with the onset of the load shedding management particularly the new two-day lights out rotation. There has been a notable decline in the activities of businesses, which rely greatly on electricity for their productivity. Cold store operators seem the hardest hit among many enterprises. Many businessmen have expressed concern about the current load shedding exercise saying it has greatly offset their economic gains and have decried the effects of the current crisis. This is because they are unable to get the required power supply to be able to go about their activities. Madam Akua Gyamfua, Manager of Gyamfua Cold Store at Asafo, producers of ice blocks told the Daily Graphic that she requires a 24-hour continuous supply of power to be able to produce one set of ice block. “Prior to the load shedding we were producing ice blocks on daily basis but we currently produce at two to three days intervals and even with that the blocks come out not well caked because of intermittent outages apart from the normal load shedding”, she said. Painting a small snapshot on the problem, Madam Jane Amoah of Obibi Cold Store at Asafo claimed products in their cold storage especially fish have been going bad day in day out because of the interruptions in power supply. She said she recently had to change the motors of many refrigerators in her cold store because they had been damaged by the power outages and also had to purchase an unbudgeted for stabilisers at the cost of about ¢10million. Public protests continue to mount in many areas in Kumasi as the solutions to the energy problem seem not to be coming soon enough. Residents in areas such as Kentikrono, Oduom, Ayeduase, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) campus and its surrounding areas and Ejisu-Krapa apart from struggling with the new two-day lights out rotation have been experiencing outages irregularly. Pupils and students in basic and tertiary institutions in those areas are being denied electricity for their studies. A primary six pupil at the St Experimental Primary School, Ms Diana Ama Pokuaa expressed concern about the trading of accusations and counter-accusations on the crisis and said that would not help find a solution to the problem. She said she has been listening to the accusations and counter accusations on radio. “The current power crisis was a real crisis for the people of Ghana” Mr Edwin Agyapong, Managing Director of Computer Processing Centre (CPC) in Kumasi (CPC) told the Daily Graphic. According to him the effects of the energy crisis was gradually surpassing the pressures of crude oil prices and said the economic cost of the energy crisis to his company was almost impossible to quantify and expressed the hope that the government would through its promises act appropriately on it. “It is very expensive running generators for our operations and even with that the generators are not able to power most of the equipment we use in our operations”, Mr Agyapong said. He said he has lost many of the clients at his Internet Cafe and said the problem was even worse when he was trying to link up with other partners in Accra and other areas through fax or e-mail only to realise that those areas have outages. The irony is that when they have light on, you also have light off so it makes it impossible to communicate as a result deals that should take minutes to accomplish takes days to accomplish, he said. Mr Agyapong called for a constructive discourse within government, within the energy sector and by the public, on what can be learned from this unfortunate experience, and how to avoid this level of crisis-point ever being reached again. Madam Mary Owusu Bonsu, a nurse at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital called for a serious attention on the government’s medium and long term energy solutions, which include the construction of the Bui Dam with support from the Chinese government. On the part of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Mr William Boateng, the Regional Public Relations Officer explained that certain areas in the Kumasi metropolis have been experiencing irregular outages as a result of cable faults during normal outages and unannounced outages from the Volta River Authority (VRA). He said cable theft during power outages has also aggravated the problem of irregular outages. He said the entire Ashanti region requires 135 megawatts but has been shedding 35 of it in the load management and added that the VRA sometimes in an unannounced manner knocks off 20 megawatts resulting in the irregular outages. Mr Boateng said many of the gadgets of the ECG currently needs to be replaced because they have been affected by the frequent outages since they were not designed to withstand such outages.

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