Blackouts Year Three: Peaceful Demonstrations

Thousands of Ghanaians marched peacefully through parts of the capital Accra to protest the government’s failure to solve a three-year long electric power crisis that has sapped businesses and hindered economic growth. The march, organised by Ghanaian celebrities and artistes, drew a gathering of academics, civil servants and private business people which stretched half a kilometre through the streets of the city’s eastern districts.

The marchers, draped in black and red, held kerosene torches and candles as they chanted anti-government slogans.Among them was a man carrying a table-top refrigerator which he said was damaged by frequent power cuts. Economic growth in Ghana, once a favourite of investors in Africa, has been slowed by fiscal crisis that forced the government to seek International Monetary Fund support and undermined its reputation abroad for financial management.

But it is the energy crisis that has crippled businesses at home and angered ordinary Ghanaians. Currently, the electricity company provides power for 12 hours out of a 36-hour cycle. “We are saying that three years is more than enough to solve this crisis – it’s taking a toll on our livelihood,” said Yvonne Nelson, convener of the march. The government has blamed the problem on unmatched power demand over the years. It outlined plans to deploy emergency power barges and build additional plants to raise installed capacity by more than 3 000 megawatts to 5 000 by 2017.

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