Limited gas supply triggers nationwide blackout in Ghana

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Ghanaians gather for a third day of anti-government protests amid police arrests and obstruction in Accra, Ghana, September 23, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A deficiency of natural gas needed to fuel the machinery responsible for electricity generation plunged many regions of Ghana into darkness. Ghana’s power distribution company, Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), reported a significant supply deficit of 550 megawatts during peak hours at the Tema power plant near Accra. Last week end’s extensive power outage followed multi-day protests amid Ghana’s most severe economic crisis in a generation.

Ghana has grappled with recurrent power shortages colloquially known as “dumsor,” which translates to “on and off” in the Akan language. The country largely relies on hydro and thermal sources for electricity, but these sources have often suffered from inadequate maintenance.

This recent incident represents the most extensive nationwide blackout in the past two years. A study conducted in June expressed serious concerns about the nation’s energy supply, describing it as “highly precarious and on the brink of a power crisis.” The country’s financial problems have further exacerbated the energy situation. In July, independent power producers in Ghana even threatened to halt their operations due to unpaid debts owed to them by the state-owned Electricity Company of Ghana.

In a statement released on Friday, GRIDCo announced that electricity distribution in certain parts of Ghana would be curtailed for a couple of days. The statement expressed regret for the inconvenience caused but did not provide specific details regarding the cause of the gas supply issue or when normal supplies are expected to be restored.

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