Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 September 2023:
Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is in darkness due to power cuts, as Turkey’s Karpowership discontinued its power supply to the country, due to an unpaid debt of about $40 million, Kanja Sesay – the country’s energy minister said last Friday.
Kanja Sesay told Reuters that the outstanding amount “was accrued over time because the government subsidizes more than half the cost the ship charges per kilowatt hour.”
He said the government had to spend more on the subsidy because it charges consumers in the weak local Leone currency, one of worst performing against the dollar in which it pays the power provider.
A government commission has been set up to review consumer electricity tariffs which could double.
Karpowership, one of the world’s largest operators of floating power plants and part of the Karadeniz Energy Group, signed deals in 2018 and 2020 to provide electricity to Sierra Leone’s state power utility.
The company has made similar deals with several African countries that are struggling with electricity supply.
The company says on its website that it has deployed around 65 megawatts (MW) of power generation capacity to Sierra Leone since 2020 and has been supplying 80% of its total electricity needs.
Sesay said the switch-off by Karpowership had reduced the electricity supply to the capital by 13%. Electricity is now being rationed in the capital with homes and businesses going without electricity for hours daily.
Karpowership is one of three sources of electricity to the city – the other two include the country’s hydro dam, and power from an interconnection with Ivory Coast which also supplies Guinea and Liberia.
Sesay said Karpowership supply is mostly needed during the dry season when water levels at its dam are low. Dependence on the firm is reduced during the rainy season. The country is currently at the peak of its May to November rainy season.
But critics of the Bio-led government are accusing the President of lying to the people of Sierra Leone during election campaign in 2018, after accusing the Koroma-led APC government of poor governance and promising that he will solve the country’s perennial electricity problems.
Today President Bio himself cannot solve Sierra Leone’s electricity shortage due to non-payment of debt.