2018 Power Tariff Cut Cause of Current 'Dumsor – Kwabena Donkor

The tariff reduction implemented in the power sector in 2018 by the Akufo-Addo government is to blame for the current dumsor situation, former Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor has posited. The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) released a load-shedding timetable for parts of the Greater Accra Region spanning 10 – 17 May 2021 to allow its engineers to do critical works at the Pokuase Bulk Supply Point.

The project is meant to serve 350,000 households.

ECG CEO Kwame Agyeman Budu told the media during a tour of the project on Tuesday, 20 April 2021 that: “We are coming up with a planned schedule for the areas that are going to be affected”.

“The areas have been grouped into four”, he noted.

He added: “It has been scheduled in such a way that no single customer will see the outage throughout for the eight days”.

According to Mr Agyemang Budu, customers “will see probably 12 hours’ outage in the day time” while “the next three days, they will experience the outage in the night time”.

“It will be rotated,” he noted.

However, Dr Donkor told Class FM Wednesday, 21 April 2021 that the current challenges with power supply has its roots in the 2018 power tariff cuts.

“We have real challenges and the challenges emanated from the first quarter 2018’s tariff reduction. That is the crux of the matter”, the Pru East MP said, explaining: “In the first quarter 2018, specifically in March, the PURC and the government came out with a tariff reduction. Arising out of that tariff reduction, GRIDCo and all the other electricity utility [providers] came to parliament. I was and still am a member of the committee of mines and energy. When they appeared before us, we asked what the repercussions of the tariff reduction was going to be”.

“The GRIDCo CEO said they’ll have to suspend some projects because they were going to lose about GHS280 million for 2018 alone as a result of that tariff reduction and, so, they were going to curtail some expansion projects, they were going to also slow down some maintenance works because they didn’t have the cash flow to back it with that reduction and then they had this cooperation with the French Agency for International Development who also pulled the plugs because the balance sheet of GRIDCo arising out of that tariff reduction could not generate the cash flow needed for GRIDCo’s component on that project”, he said.

And, therefore, Dr Donkor noted, “projects which ought to have been completed in 2019, at worst 2020, have not been completed”, adding: “Some of them have just been reinstated. The French Agency project was reinstated only last year”.

In his view, “we lost out because of that tariff reduction”.

“Not only GRIDCo; ECG’s cash flow was impaired. The same goes for NEDCo and, therefore, there has been a maintenance backlog, there’s been a challenge with expansion and we must recognise that each year, there’s a spatial growth.

“Almost every area in Ghana is growing and that naturally comes along with a growth in power demand: extension of power to new areas, the need for new distributors, the need for new transformers etc., and, so, ordinarily, GRIDCo ECG, NEDCo would have to have a certain amount of growth ordinarily to keep up with growing spatial development”, he added.

As far as he is concerned, the challenges with the power sector are being massaged and not tackled from the roots.

“We are plastering major cracks and that is what leads to this shift from one excuse to another”, Dr Donkor noted.

Concerning the debate about whether or not Ghana is experiencing dumsor, Dr Donkor said: “Remember, a minister said this couldn’t be dumsor because there was no timetable and now there is a timetable, so, does the timetable, per se, change the situation to dumsor? The challenge we have is that of shifting posts; dumsor is not an engineering term and when I was a minister [I was uncomfortable with the term dumsor] and I still am uncomfortable with the term dumsor. I’m talking about load-shedding, that is very specific and that is engineering-based. Engineering supply-side management-based, so, you know exactly that at one point, you don’t have generation capacity and, therefore, you have to ration what you have and that is what we call load-shedding”.

“At another point, you don’t have enough transmission capacity and, so, you have to ration or you don’t even have enough distributing capacity because if the distributing capacity is compromised, then you don’t have enough and, so, you’d have to load-shed but Ghanaians coined a political term dumsor to basically mean there’s inadequate supply of electricity, so, it comes on and goes off. That is the term, so, the term dumsor is not a technical term. It’s a political term invented by Ghanaians to denote the absence of stable power. If we look at it from that perspective, then it is easy to categorise the state we are in now. Do we have stable electricity supply? So that is what we should be looking at and not the acrobatic we are having”.