Electricity power cuts hit Freetown as government runs out of cash to pay Turkish company

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.

1 Comment

  1. When a country is being led haphazardly this is the result. To solve a problem, sustained attention should be given to it to determine its root cause, and equal sustained effort should be given to its solution. This may involve taking unpopular decisions on the face of things but the result will be admirable as well as exemplary. To be fair to the Bio government the lack of adequate electricity has been with us since the days of Siaka Stevens, only that it has got worse under Bio. The lack of foresight in economic or development planning has, in no small measure, contributed to the overall demise of Sierra Leone. The lack of sufficient electricity is just one of the symptoms of the constant maladies which the nation has been subjected to for decades . A government which cannot address the needs of its people is akin to a ship which has completely lost power on the high seas and the captain is ignorant of emergency measures; where the ship will end up is anybody’s guess.
    In Bio we have a captain who has grabbed the only life jacket on board a ship which is listless, and is ready to kill and maim anyone who dares to disrupts his grand design to be the only one who survives the wrecking of the ship by waves higher than Mount Kilimanjaro. Isn’t this what is called selfishness?
    To compound his problems, Bio has offended those with the resources to efficiently respond to his May Day calls to save the souls of all those on board his ship – the nation and his useless crew. This is the man who claimed, at the dawn of his presidency, that he would take the ship of the nation in a “new direction “. We now know that he doesn’t even know where the ignition is; in the middle of looking for it word came through that he may be indicated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the unsavoury way he has gone about it. The omens are not good.

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