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HomeWorldGhana electricity supplier, ECG cuts off parliament building over $1.8 mln debt

Ghana electricity supplier, ECG cuts off parliament building over $1.8 mln debt

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Ghana’s state-run electricity supplier, ECG, briefly cut off power supplies to the parliament building on Thursday in an effort to push the legislature to honour its 23 million Ghanaian cedi ($1.8 million) debt, an ECG spokesperson said.

A video shared by local media showed lawmakers exclaiming in the dark parliamentary chamber after the power was shut off, eventually joining together in a chant of “dumsor, dumsor” – black-out in the local Twi language.

ECG has decided to cut power after the legislature failed to “honour demand notices to pay up,” ECG’s communications director William Boateng told Reuters.

Soon after, “they paid 13 million cedi ($1 million) and promised to pay the rest in a week, so our guys reconnected them.”

A parliament spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment.

The strong-arm tactics come as the West African country’s power sector grapples with widespread unpaid debts that have led to a sharp increase in outages amid a standoff between power producers and the government.

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Boateng said cutting the parliament’s electricity was part of ECG’s usual strategy to encourage indebted customers to pay up.

“Disconnections are for everybody; anyone who doesn’t pay and fails to make arrangements, the team will disconnect,” he said.

Lawmaker Edward Bawa said a fellow member of parliament and parliamentary staff had got stuck in elevators when the power went down.

“The whole sector is suffering under debt and these are some of the consequences,” Bawa told Reuters.

The government has been seeking to restructure the power sector and seal a debt deal with independent power producers (IPP) as it grapples with its worst economic crisis in a generation, characterised by double-digit inflation and ballooning public debt.

In July last year, independent power producers reached an interim deal with the ECG over arrears owed to them but promised to shut down their plants if the issue remained unsolved.

Ghana has 5,454 MW of installed capacity, of which 4,483 MW is available, its energy regulator said in April 2023.

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