REALITY BITES IN THE DARK
On January 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
  1. I wrote about the on-off cycle of electricity in Ghana in my last post. After arriving in Ghana on Jan 6, the lights in my area stayed on continuously and mercifully for a full 5 or 6 days. Then the first blackout since I had arrived went into effect, which meant bringing the monster generator into service.

This beast can power all lights and appliances, including the air conditioners (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

MaxMart: lit up like a Christmas tree (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Generators are what all large businesses have now, and they invariably have an automatic switching device for a quick changeover to the generator when power from the grid is lost. The way some businesses are lit up in Accra, you’d think there was no electricity crisis at all. This MaxMart supermarket is pretty much like its equivalent in the US, with everything from produce to meat to stationery to toys, and it also has a pharmacy. It’s a pretty good one-stop shop.

Using electricity from the grid is now very expensive in Ghana, especially if you’re running power-hungry appliances like the a/c. The Electricity Corp of Ghana (ECG) has heavily increased the tariff on electricity. Apparently, in just 2 weeks, I had an electricity consumption in the amount of the equivalent of $52. If I received a $104 electricity bill every month in the States, I would have a conniption, particularly because I have solar, but in Ghana, this sum of money amounts to highway robbery. People are stunned by their recent bills from the ECG, and there’s a pervasive feeling that the ECG (government owned, of course) is up to some nefarious gouging scheme.

But electricity is not the only thing noticeably more expensive in Ghana than just a year ago. Food, clothing, household supplies, building supplies, fuel, transportation, schooling, and professional services, have skyrocketed in price. The economy is profoundly depressed across the board, with commodity prices down and staying there.  The good old days in Ghana, if they ever existed, are gone.