Recharge card vendors in some parts of the capital, especially ‘trotro’ stations and densely populated vicinities are cashing in on the mobile phone charging business following the current load-shedding exercise locally referred to as “Dumsor”.
The business, which relies mostly on the use of generators, allows the vendors to charge batteries of mobile phones at a fee.
“Initially we charged 50 pesewas but when fuel prices went up, we increased it to One Ghana Cedi,” Yeboah, a card vendor who also charges mobile phones at the Accra Mall taxi rank ,told The Mirror.
Frank, another recharge card vendor at the Neoplan Station at Kwame Nkrumah Circle also told The Mirror that to charge a phone; the owner was given a chit with a special code which is returned to the vendor upon collection of the charged phone.
He said this code allowed the vendor to identify the exact phone that was brought for charging; explaining that phone owners with batteries that could be charged with universal chargers did not necessarily have to leave their phones.
“If we don’t have your specific charger or if we can use a universal charger for your battery, we only collect your battery and give you a number because we don’t like to keep a lot of mobile phones at a time.”
Frank said though the mobile phones and batteries were usually locked in a glass showcase, there had been instances that mobile phones and batteries had been stolen so they tried to reduce the number of phones charged at a time in order not to attract thieves.
He said because a lot of people were venturing into the business at the station, their prices were cheaper than other places.
“I charge 70Gp if I am using a generator and 50Gp if there is power, I know it is more expensive in other areas but here, there are different charging points so to attract more customers, our prices are moderate.”
He admitted that although the business was not new, it had become more lucrative because of the load-shedding exercise, saying that drivers and traders in and around the station patronised them more now than in the past.
Though most of the people involved in the business relied on generators, others who had access to electricity illegally tapped into it.
Most of the recharge card vendors who charge phones and depended on electricity at the Neoplan Station at Circle could not tell this reporter the source of their power for operating their business.
Energy situation in Ghana
Businesses and individuals in the country have in the last few months grappled with problems associated with intermittent supply of electricity as a result of shortfalls in energy generation and distribution.
Although several thermal generation projects totalling over 1,000 Megawatts are currently at various stages of development by both public and private operators, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) currently runs an 18-hour load-shedding timetable.
Power crisis deepens
A few days ago, the Daily Graphic reported that the ECG had hinted that it intended to introduce a new load-shedding timetable to enable consumers to plan their activities to efficiently use power.
Under the proposed schedule, the ECG will shut down power supply to specific areas for 24 hours, while other areas will have power for 24 hours.
According to the report, the situation was ‘worsening’ as the ECG could no longer operate the initial load-shedding timetable which was designed to shed between 300 and 400 Megawatts, adding that currently the country was dealing with a power generation shortfall of between 550 and 600 MW.
However, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) objected to the move by the ECG to introduce a new load-shedding timetable explaining that stakeholders at an earlier meeting, agreed to maintain the 18-hour load-shedding management timetable.
Source: Daily Graphic
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