Dumsor Would have Continued if NDC Won The 2016 – My Expertise Analysis.
The agony of persistent, incessant, and unpredictable power outage, codenamed as ‘Dumsor’, a power supply situation that tormented Ghanaians for about five years under NDC government, would not have been stabilised if John Mahama of NDC had won 2016 general elections. This is my analytical observation as an expert in Electrical Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution.
I have carefully observed and arrived at a conclusive analysis on Ghana’s power situation. I observe that, the fairly continuous, regular and sustained power supply in the last three years under President Akufo-Addo has been possible as a result of conscious excessive expenditure controls made towards stabilising power conservation for sustained supply in Ghana.
It is worth emphasising that, the prolonged energy crisis which characterised and impeded Ghana’s industrial economic growth under the previous administration was not due to inadequate installed capacity, but was purely as a result of the government’s inability to find financial resources to utilise the installed capacity.
I wonder how anybody could possibly argue that mere importation of the Karpower barge and Ameri power plant into the country, truly solved the issue of ‘Dumsor’ in 2016, considering the fact that the load shedding experienced, had nothing much to do with lack of installed capacity. Rather, It was purely a failure by the government to provide money for VRA to buy fuel to run the existing plants, and also purchase spare parts required to fix broken parts of the plants, etc.
The record increase in Ghana’s installed generation capacity from 1,730 MW in 2006 to 3,785 MW in 2016 coupled with the fact that the peak electricity demand in Ghana only increased by 50% correspondingly, again clearly suggests that the Dumsor situation was not about the installed capacity but a matter of poor management. If you look at the data available, the installed capacity in Ghana was more than 3,500MW, with peak system demand at about 2,400MW, leaving an excess generation capacity of over 1000MW, however, the government could not guarantee continuous financial resources to buy fuel to generate from the installed plants to meet the peak demands. Therefore the VRA had no other choice than to shut down a number of installed plants, because it was unable to purchase fuel to run them.
This worrying situation compelled the government to hastily and desperately sign ‘take or pay’ contracts with independent power producers and quickly arranged for the Ameri plant and Karpower barge, to add extra 250MW and 450MW respectively to the national grid. The fact is, these plants also rely on supply of natural gas/fuel to generate power which equally requires money to buy the fuel.
Here is the deal. If the same government could not raise financial credit to cover the defaulted payment of its contractual obligations for the state power producer (VRA) and its subsidiaries in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015; how could the same government have been able to raise different financial resources to keep Ameri and Karpower contracts which were imported into Ghana in 2016, to run efficiently throughout 2017 and the subsequent years, to meet the demand? This is mind boggling, isn’t it?
Existing data also points to the fact that, the previous government was highly indebted to VRA and ECG. The NDC government owed ECG some GHC800 million, and also owed the state power producer (VRA) over GH1.0 billion at the end of 2016. The VRA also owed its creditors, including Nigeria Gas and West Africa Pipeline Company about $1.3 billion, which the country struggled to pay. This chain of indebtedness, of course, was very problematic and would have so many ramifications in financial credit terms.
The VRA’s debt compromised the balance sheet of the authority and its ability to import crude oil to fuel the existing power plants. Therefore, upon what advice did the NDC government decide to go for the Ameri and Karpower plants to add extra installed capacity?
I would like to point out that, on two different occasions, the former energy minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, had impassionately blamed the persistent power outage which occurred under his watch on lack of money to purchase gas to fuel power plants.
On 27 Nov. 2018, the former Energy Minister, Dr Donkor, has been on record to have stated that: “The major problem our nation faced was finance, the hard cash to pay for fuel. As a nation, irrespective of whoever occupies the seat, there are fundamental issues that we must address and move away from short term issues, and the near lazy approach.”
The Pru East MP, Dr Kwabena Donkor, in April 2019, again debunked the assertion that Dumsor was a ‘thinking problem’ (incompetence) as it was levelled against the NDC government by then running mate of the opposition candidate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, but rather he contended that “Dumsor was as a result of a financial problem.”
What this means is that, hastily signing for new contracts to add more plants and increase the generation capacity was definitely, not the solution.
On January 21, 2015, President John Dramani Mahama when he met Ghanaian community in Germany on his visit told them that he had been nicknamed ‘Mr Dumsor’ in Ghana as a result of the prevailing power crisis. He also conceded that indeed the issue of Dumsor was ‘Money factor’ when the President said: “The Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) is currently shedding between 400megawatts and 600megawatts of electricity because there is no gas to power some of the country’s thermal plants.” A confession by the President which further proves that Dumsor was simply the lack of financial resources and not due to inadequate installed capacity.
What we need to appreciate is that, in this modern days, irregularity of power supply have serious socio- economic effects on nation building, and can cause large economic loses. According to the World Bank, “electricity poses the second most important constraint to business activities in Ghana and most African countries as a whole.”
Ghana has had quite good long history of power generation. The Akosombo Dam, which is today, the largest reservoir by surface area in the world, and the fourth largest by water volume, was originally built in the 1920s to serve the British, and Ghana has since expanded it and mainly relied heavily on it until the recent increase in the installed fossil fuel power plants and other considerable renewables. Indeed, notwithstanding, Ghana has had periods of load shedding exercises in the past. In 1983, 1998, 2006/7, due to drought that naturally lowers the water levels in the Akosombo Dam, but the fact remains that, none has lasted for more than a year continuous load shedding exercise.
Ghana, in strict sense, is endowed with numerous renewable energy resources particularly solar (4.5 – 5.6 kWh/m2/day of solar radiation) and would respectfully urge the authority to take the advantage of developing these sources, which could greatly augment energy supply, while reducing the dependency on traditional generation methods.
I would therefore like to cautions that, “Dumsor kills national development of healthy economy that benefits the majority in our social interdependence, hence, under no circumstances, should Ghanaians be delusive in their judgement to bring back ‘Dumsor’ upon themselves, it will be an adventurous self-inflicted disaster.
Ing. Peter Antwi Boasiako