Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ghana-Load shedding continues

I have refrained from writing about the electricity situation in Ghana, with the hope that this piece would bring some good News. Folks, we have a SNAFU!!.The rotating blackout or load-shedding (dumsor in the local lingo) is on with a full force or vengeance.
First the powers that are, said it is the water level at the hydro dams, namely Akosombo, Kpong, and now the new two-year old facility at Bui.
There are three main things that make up a generator; the steel lamination, the magnet wire (copper or aluminum), and the insulation system. All three are vital, however the first two do not like each other and do NOT want to touch under any condition otherwise there would be fire (I guarantee this). So, to keep them apart, the third one (insulation) is inserted between them.
I will dwell on the insulation because it is like the referee in any team sport. If there is no referee, the game becomes unruly and there is chaos (which in the case of electrical equipment is fire). The insulation system (referee) is mostly made up of organic material, and all organic materials have a life expectancy. Once the weakest member of the insulation system reaches its maximum useful life, the whole generator has to be taken out of service and rebuild or refurbished. If this is NOT done, steel and magnet wire come into contact, with the end result being fire.
The insulation system as I said has a life expectancy, so forget about the thought of making it live forever, nobody can. Now that we have this straight, the question is how do you get longer life out of the insulation? First and foremost, keep it dry; and secondly keep it cool. These two are the life lines of all electrical insulation. The average life of hydro generators is 20 to 30 years.
FACT, this blogger use to work for General Electric (GE) in the USA. FACT, this blogger was at the GE plant in Peterborough Ontario, Canada in 1994/1995 when one of the generators from Akosombo was brought in for refurbishing. That is about 30 to 32 years after the initial inauguration of the hydro station in the 1960’s. Remember I said one of the units and there are six. The question is, were the other five refurbished before I got there or after I left. If any of the six units have not been refurbished since installation, the insulation system may be useless now.
Now let us go back to the crust of the present situation. I am NOT buying what is being dished out that the low water level is the cause of power generating capability. If any of the units have NOT been refurbished, that or those units are not good.
This is where I go out on the limb. Money that should have been used to refurbish all six units, have been diverted. Equipment is probably fire damaged.
Folks, the hippos are running wild.!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ghana and Blackouts

It has been quite a while since my last posting. Once you finish reading this piece, I am very sure you will forgive me before I ask for your forgiveness.
Over the last five or six months, Ghana has been suffering from a disease called “dumsor”. It is not related to ebola, and not deadly to humans, but very deadly to foods that require refrigeration and to appliances air-conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, and light bulbs.
The problem is that, nobody seem to have a handle on the situation that brought on this disease, and if those who are in a position to know really know, they are NOT talking.
a  a)     Because, one is afraid of losing his or her job or
        b)    One is being threatened.

This is blogger is NOT obligated to anybody inside Ghana or outside, so I tell it the way it is. There are three distinct entities that get the electricity form production source to the average home, factory, or end-user. First, there is Volta River Authority (VRA), Gridco, Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).
Power in Ghana is generated at many sources by VRA. From the generating point, Gridco takes over and send the power available to it through their transmission lines to user points. Finally, ECG hooks the end-user to their meter and the user points.
Having work as an electrical Insulation engineer for companies like Westinghouse Electric and General Electric, I know enough to say without reservation that the insulation system in motors, generators and transformers do aged, and the equipment needs to be taken out of service, stripped and parts with new insulation materials inserted into the equipment, once this is done, the equipment is virtually a new equipment, and a brand spanking new Warranty is given by the manufacturer. If you wait until the equipment break down, then,  there is going to be a possible fire, that could destroy the internal parts of the equipment, and the copper, aluminum and iron parts would be rendered useless. 

My own gut feeling is that, some equipment that should have been take out of service many years ago, were not taken out; equipment has been destroyed beyond salvaging.

Over the last seven months, there have been rotating blackout in Ghana. Initially, there was schedule that was publish in one of the dailies that tells when certain towns and cities from one end of Ghana (North to South, East to West) can happily look forward to being blacked-out (12 hour on 12 hours off). But since Christmas, that schedule is no longer publish. Blackout or “dumsor” comes without notice (minimum 24 hours off and maximum 12 hours on). Appliances get destroyed because power goes off and comes back with power surge (ready or NOT here it comes). There have been rumors that, in areas where there are top execs of VRA, Gridco or ECG residing, dumsor does NOT exsist. 

Coca cola has just announce a possible lay-off of some of their employees because regular production is being done with backup generators (which is costing them more money).
If you are contemplating doing business in Ghana, my advice is WAIT until the present situation changes. The hippos are running wild in Ghana
 Welcome to Ghana.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nigeria Gas, and its Contractual Obligations

Nigeria Gas, and its Contractual Obligations
In my last blog, I stated that Ghana is going through its famous rotating blackout “Dumsor”, and the cause is attributed to labor unrest in Nigeria, which has resulted in the stoppage of gas to a gas-fired power plant in Ghana at Asogli (Tema).

Well, the Energy Minister from Ghana (Hon. Mr. Buah) stated on Ghana TV that he had gone to Nigeria last week to ascertain the facts about the stoppage.

I guess the Nigerians are NOT that good about hiding things and facts, because Mr. Buah caught the Nigerian Authorities at their own game, to the fact that even with the so-called labor unrest, some gas was flowing, but the Nigerians had decided to keep whatever gas was flowing to themselves (charity begins at home) regardless of any contractual obligations.  They have decided to play dumb or shall I say stupid about the fact that they have an Internationally BINDING contract that should be FULFILLED FIRST.

This is where I give Ghana a “pat on the back”. Ghana has a standing contract to supply electricity to both Togo and Benin, and no matter how bad things have been in Ghana, these tow countries have received their contractual megawatt of electricity at the expense of all Ghanaians.

Folks, does it mean Ghanaians are more honorable than Nigerians? I would not go that far. Like I said last time, these two countries are like Siamese twins, they are both West African countries, and they are both English speaking.
So draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dumsor is Back

The Siamese twins of (Ghana and Nigeria) are at it AGAIN

Ghana is dependent on Nigeria for gas (fuel) that is used to power the generating plant at Asogli. 
Even though Nigeria is bound by international contract to supply the gas needed to Ghana, “you can NOT get blood out of a turnip”, and labor unrest in Nigeria has compelled the supplier (Nigeria) to suspend the supply of the needed fuel to the end user (Ghana) until the labor issue is resolved.
So Ghana is back to the famous rotating black-out “dumsor”.

This takes us back to the advice I have given in my previous blog, if you plan on doing any kind of manufacturing operation in Ghana, better have a back-up generator or two.