It’s easy to believe that the worst of dumsor is over. That’s not to say the energy sector is in any way fixed. If you listen to politicians, it’s still a mess. And, of course, just ask any Ghanaian that’s still afraid to purchase food for more than two days at a stretch.
Across Africa, a continent rich with natural fuels, there are movements to get off the grid as much as possible. Homeowners with any means from the south to the north hope to make the most of individual solar panels that allow them to reduce their dependence on electricity supplied by the government.
During President Mahama’s time, an initiative to install 500-watt solar panels was offered to those that could afford it. Okay, the actual installation has been free, but it comes with a startup outlay of $1500 each. It’s little wonder that a mere 407 panels have been taken up. (Of course, those that have them love the ability to protect themselves from the devastating effects of dumsor.
Much more is needed, however, than solar panels – if only because the majority of Ghana’s power allocations to the poor rely on the high prices paid by those with higher incomes.
Of course, with the change in Presidential leadership, comes a chance for those in government to involve politics to support or denounce the new initiatives. A deputy minister designate for Energy, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, has called for politicians to desist from playing this type of game, claiming that it really needs to be all about the increase in supply and reliability of electricity provision. And it should, of course.
Luckily, the international community seems to recognise the need to develop this sector as well. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has approved $40 million to support power supply in Accra’s Central Business District.
At the very least, developments in this area will help to develop Ghana’s reputation as an investment-friendly destination. President Akufo-Addo plans to make the country the premier African destination for investment. Given the topsy-turvy nature of the rest of Africa, it doesn’t seem like it would be impossible. And, let’s be honest, with moves to cut interest rates and the development of facilities that would attract medical tourism on the continent, there really is a sense that it can happen.
Maybe it really is time to realise the promise of Ghana’s growth.