The issue of high electricity tariffs has been just as popular as ‘dumsor’ such that the topic is no longer news to Ghanaians. However, the newly sworn in Energy Minister, Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko is coming with a new lease of hope.
Speaking to The Finder after his swearing in on Friday, Mr. Agyarko gave out assurances that the menace of high electricity tariffs will soon be tackled. The Energy Minister said that in the first five hundred days in office, government will among other things, begin an “incremental reduction of tariffs on electricity so that people begin to get some relief”.
Boakye Agyarko promised to first and foremost, ensure that he improves the balance sheet of the various bodies within the energy sector. This he said will enable all the energy sector entities be able to “act as credible entities and credible off-takers for energy production”.
Mr. Agyarko disclosed that new measures and guidelines which are outlined in the NPP government’s manifesto will be strictly followed to achieve its goals in the energy sector. According to him, the nation is going to be excited with what they intend to do in the sector.
Scheduled shutdown of some power plants
Reports reveal that the Ameri and the Ghana Gas company among others will soon be shut down. The power generating company, the Volta River Authority (VRA), earlier last week, announced a scheduled shutdown of the Ghana Gas company and the Ameri Plant to allow the connection of the TEN fields to the Atuabo plant.
The Energy Minister however assured that government is not leaving electric power supply over the period to chance. He said adequate plans are being put in place to take care of the challenges in power generation that wpuld arise from the shutdown. According to him, negotiations are being made with Ivory Coast for supplementary power. He also said they are pushing for gas supply from Nigeria to make up for the speculated shortfall in power generation which is about 300 MW.
The Electricity Tariffs Menace in Ghana
As was earlier mentioned, the issue of high electricity tariffs, just like ‘dumsor’ is no longer a new topic in Ghana. The menace however, became more prevalent in the past administration [although they scarcely admitted to it]; with many enterprises being forced out of business due to unaffordable electricity bills.
The past NDC government did and also promised to do a lot to curb the problem to no avail. From the increase of tariffs and taxes, ECG privatization, down to the promise of one meter per house, the issue has remained unabated.
Meanwhile, the electricity tariffs which many has described as ‘killer’, ‘outrageou‘, ‘exorbitant’ and so on, has brought about many negative effects in the lives of Ghanaians.
Businesses Shutdown, Workers Laid Off
The high cost of electricity has resulted in increased cost of production in companies, leading to some employers laying off their workers to cut cosr. Among so many unrecorded cases, the Tema Regional Officer of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, Eleazer Nyaunu had in hinted on the imminent lay off of over 300 workers by their employers last year. He said that employers are pushing for redundancy exercise as they believe that is the only way to save their businesses.
He also said that some companies embarking on the redundancy exercises have served notice of laying off more workers if the power situation does not improve soon. The situation can be likened to that of 2015 when close to 13,000 workers were sacked by their employers due to intense power challenges.
In reaction to the menace, Ghanaians have on various occasions embarked on protests to make their grievances known to the government. One of the most popular of them all is the demonstration in Tamale last August, which was tagged Di Miiya, meaning ‘Times are Tough’. Some Ghanaians had at some point, threatened on a certain occasion, to beat up ECG staff over the issue.