Small businesses relieved as power rationing ends

Owners of small scale businesses have expressed satisfaction with the electricity supply situation in the country, describing it as a significant improvement.

In separate interviews the Daily Graphic had with them in Accra, the small scale business operators said that the regular supply of electricity in the past weeks, had stabilised their businesses.

Besides, they said, the stability in electricity supply had reduced the operational costs as they had stopped spending on fuel to run their generators.

They lauded the government and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) for taking steps to improve the energy situation, and appealed to the authorities to put in place measures to prevent a relapse.

The small scale business operators, who the Daily Graphic spoke to, included printers, barbering salon operators, Internet cafe operators, aluminium fabricators and tailors.

Ghana experienced a significant shortfall in energy generation and supply, following the shut down of the operations of the Asogli Power Plant. The shut down of the Asogli plant, which was generating 220 megawatts, was occasioned by the damage of pipelines of the West Africa Gas Company (WAPCo) in Togo.

That damage resulted in Ghana losing the 220 MW from Asogli Power Plant and another 50 megawatts from the Volta River Authority (VRA).

Consequently, the ECG was compelled to undertake a load shedding exercise for a number of months.

The situation affected many businesses, as their work output was dependent on electricity supply. Those who could afford bought generators to keep their businesses running while the business of others went down.

The government took steps to improve the energy situation by adding 133 megawatts from the Takoradi Power Station, another 133MW from the Bui Hydroelectric Power Project and a two MW solar plant at Navrongo by President John Dramani Mahama.

Following the resumption of gas supply to Ghana by WAPCo a month ago, the Asogli Power Plant has started operations, a development that had contributed to improving the energy situation and ending the load shedding.

An Internet operator at Kanda, Mr Kojo Godwin, said in the difficult days, power outages normally occurred in the mornings and supplies were restored in the evenings.

He said since he did not have a generator, anytime there was an outage, his set up could not function because the computers depended solely on electricity.

However, Mr Godwin said, for the past one-and-a-half months, the lights had been stable in the area.

”For now, we are all enjoying the service. It is not like before when you come to work and frown your face because there is no light,” he said with a smile.

He, however, indicated that still the lights went off once in a while.

Mr Godwin commended the government for supporting the ECG to improve the electricity supply situation, and stressed the need for the authorities to ensure that the nation never revisited the load shedding days.

The owner of a the ‘Seven Eleven’ barbering salon at Labone, Mr Mohammed Amin Swallah, told that the Daily Graphic that his business had peaked following the stable electricity supply.

”My customers know that now I have reliable power supply, so more of them come now,”  he said.

Mr Swallah’s joy now is that he saves the money that he would otherwise have used to buy fuel to operate his generator.

According to him, during the load shedding period, he spent GH¢20 every day on fuel, and paid a monthly electricity bill of GH¢40.

With a stable power supply, he now depends solely on electricity and pays a monthly bill of GH¢60.

The manager of SAMSACK Printing Press at Accra New Town, Mr Samuel Sackitey, said his outfit was greatly affected by the power crisis, as it could not meet deadlines for printing.

For instance, he said, while in the process of printing obituary posters, electricity supply could cease and at such times, he had no choice but to send the work to other printing press, that used huge generators, to complete it for a fee.

He said power supply to his area had not been restored 100 per cent, explaining that due to the changing of electric poles along the New Town/Nima road, the area sometimes experienced power outages.

The manager of Jays Meiyaki Ventures, an aluminium fabrication company at Accra New Town, Mr Jay Meiyaki, said currently regular supply of electricity had eased the pressure on the company since they no longer depended on a generator for power supply.

He said now they could carry through their work plan for the day without any hitch.

A seamstress at Nima, Mrs Sylvia Avor, recalled the times when she had to use box iron, with its associated inconveniences, to iron the clothes she made.

She commended the government and ECG for improving the electricity supply situation and made a passionate appeal to the authorities to take the necessary steps to prevent the occurrence of the load shedding exercise.

Ghana’s power demand increases by about 10 per cent annually due to economic growth. As a result, the country needs to generate additional 200 MW every year.

President Mahama has continuously affirmed the government’s resolve to double the country’s power installed capacity from 2,500 MW to 5,000 MW by 2016 to ensure sustainable energy and make the country a net exporter of electricity.

The government seeks to attain this through thermal, hydro and 16 mini hydro sites, which would collectively produce 450 megawatts. Power supply from Bui would be increased from 400 megawatts to 800 megawatts.

By Musah Yahaya Jafaru/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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