Once again Ghanaians are having to cope with another era of load shedding translating into power outages from time to time. It is still unclear just how deep the problem will be since no schedule for the outages has yet been provided.
Indeed, even the expected time period for the outages – 12 days according to the Ministry of Energy – is being taken with a pinch of salt.
This newspaper shares the concerns of those who doubt the veracity of the latest timelines that have been given. This because we are forced to wonder whether the Energy Minister was not aware of the latest project being presented as the cause for load shedding – the connection of gas pipelines from the Atuabo gas processing facility in the Western Region to power generation facilities at Tema, in the Eastern half of the country – before he gave a five day timeline for the resolution of the last problem causing load shedding, which was presented as the repair of transmission lines at Pokuase.
Cynics are already agreeing with the political opposition who unsurprisingly are claiming that government is not telling the entire truth as to the cause of the ongoing load shedding and the length of the period over which it will last. Unlike the political opposition though, their worries emanate from the fact that under the previous political administration, similarly varying reasons were given for the advent of load shedding at its start, only for a problem which Ghanaians were promised would be quickly resolved to stretch into several years. Many people now worry that the only thing that has changed is that there is a different set of people in government; but the strategy of excuses to cover a deep and possibly long lasting problem remains the same.
To be sure, this newspaper is more charitable. Despite clear reasons for concern we prefer to take government for its word, at least until the new 12 day deadline expires without an end to the latest power outages.
But we ask that a clear load shedding be provided. Uncertainty as to the availability of power is extremely disruptive to the production plans and schedules of private enterprise, big and small alike. Coming at a time that Ghana is seeking to recover from last year’s slowdown in the economic growth rate, such production disrupting uncertainty could be very expensive indeed.
Instructively, many entrepreneurs and corporate decision makers are currently unsure as to whether to make plans for alternative privately generated power supply. If they fail to do so and the current outages continue well beyond what we have been told, then economic output would suffer significantly. Conversely, if they do so and normal power supply resumes according to the timelines provided by government, then such enterprises would have made significant, but totally unnecessary expenditure.
This is why a schedule for load shedding is needed; and just as importantly, government must keep to its promise with regards to its timelines for resolving the current situation. Any thing short of this would generate more uncertainty more doubt and ultimately less economic output.