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Ghana President Vows to Deal with Country’s Electricity Crisis

FILE - Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama speaks during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, January 22, 2014.

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama said his government will correct the country’s chronic electricity problem.

Speaking Thursday to the country’s parliament in a state of the nation address, Mahama said all Ghanaians are feeling the pinch of the power crisis, and businesses and industries are threatening to lay off workers.

He said his government is developing a partnership with the private sector to install solar panels centers throughout the country.

The president also promised to enhance output of traditional power sources, such as hydro and gas.

The main opposition National Patriotic Party (NPP) held a demonstration earlier this month calling on Mahama to step down if his government could not increase electricity.

Boakye Agyarko, former campaign manager for NPP leader Nana Akufo-Addo, said Ghana is having electricity problems because President Mahama’s government has mismanaged the country’s energy sector.

“Our position is that this three-year rolling crisis is needless, needless in the sense that at the end of 2008 when President Kufuor and the NPP were leaving office, we had an installed capacity of 2,800 megawatts. And the system peak demand projected was expected to be 2, 700 megawatts thereabout. So why are we having a three-year crisis? We are having a three-year crisis simply because the energy sector has been grossly mismanaged,” he said.

In his speech, President Mahama reportedly said Ghana’s electricity problems were in part the result of the country’s economic success over the last decade.

But Agyarko said the claim is false because ordinary Ghanaians, not businesses, are the main consumer most of the country’s power.

“If you look at our power profile, it is the household sector that consumes most of our power. Not industry. How do you say you succeeded economically when your growth of rate dropped from 14 percent to 3.9? It is pure mismanage[ment]. If you can’t buy a $100 million worth of crude for your thermal plants, how do you attribute it to economic success?” he said.

Agyarko said NPP President John Kufuor was faced with similar power crisis in 2006 he took emergency action to remedy the situation.

“We brought in a 126 megawatts emergency plant. We started the Bui Dam, we started the Osombo Plant. Altogether, by the time he was leaving office that capacity had grown from 1,180 megawatts to 2,800 megawatts. So he added over 1,400 megawatts to capacity,” Agyarko said.

He rejected any suggestion that the opposition is playing politics ahead of the 2017 poll.

“As I sit with you my power is off for the next 24 hours. There are barbers who can’t work; there are seamstresses, welders who can’t work; factories are laying off workers. What is electioneering about it?” Agyarko said.

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