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.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The New Africa-Nigeria



The New Africa-Nigeria
Until April 2014, the largest economy in the Continent of Africa was The Republic of South Africa (RSA). Then without any intentional planning, doing, or calculation, Nigeria with a population of about 150 million finds herself ahead of RSA with a population of about 44 million. One would ask how did that happened or what happened; considering the fact that, 20 years ago, you can NOT mention Nigeria in the same breath with RSA when you are talking economy.
Do not get me wrong, there is no politics without corruption anywhere in the universe. Even in the USA, we once had Mr. Cold Cash, and Africa is no different, but Mr. Jacob Zuma seems to be haunted by more corruption allegations than corruption itself.
This blog is about energy (electricity to be exact) so lets get back to the topic. Nigeria is a county awash in oil, but where electricity generating and it supply or distribution (no pun intended) is concern, Nigeria so reliable (no pun intended) that 9 out of 10 homes or businesses have their own generator or generators. You can generate all the power in the world, but if you can NOT get it to where it is needed, you have nothing; and Nigeria seems to be failing at both.
Now, Nigeria is banking on getting power from The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for her own use and exporting some to other unfortunate West African neighbors. The source of this not yet available electric power is the Grand Inga (and I wrote a little bit about this in 2008). Things still have not changed since I wrote the last piece back in 2008. The DRC is still under producing with the smaller Inga 1 and 2. If you canNOT  take care of a baby or a little child, how do you plan on taking care of an adult.

Is Nigeria trying to buy a ‘pig in the poke’ or counting somebody’s ‘chicken before they are hatched’?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dumsor (Blackout) is back in Ghana



It is with sad heart that I am bring this bad news to my followers.
Ghana is back to “dumsor”. That is the Ghanaian term for load-shedding. Sadly this is happening without notice. Just found out on a TV program “Tarzan’s Take” that there is a law on the books that none of the major cities namely Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Sekondi-Takoradi is to see more than 48 hours of blackout “dumsor” in any one year period. Speaking for myself in the suburb of Accra (New Achimota) March 09, 2014 to March 16, 2014; I had “dumsor” every blessed day. Monday March 10, 2014, I had “dumsor” for 10.5 hours. There was one other day that I had more than 8 hours.
Now that I am aware of this 48 hour law, I will start keeping tabs on the “dumsor”, that is the frequency and the duration.
I thought when I spoke to the information officer at the Energy Ministry, the data provided is something I can take to the bank, I was living in a fools dreams. It looks like the demand is 1985 megawatts per day, while the production is 1650 Megawatts. Folks, that is a deficit of 335 Megawatts. You cannot squeeze water from a rock, neither can you get blood out of a cabbage.
This country is NOT ready for foreign investors. It is bad when you have to pay to get what is not supposed to be paid for (bribery). But this electricity thing is something else.
It looks like the hippos are back in this environment with a vengeance