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FEATURE: Intermittent power outages in Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions; BACBA/BUSAC advocacy yield results


Date: Sunday March 17, 2019, 7:45 am


By: By COPIO Team


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Erratic power supply in the country is pushing businesses to the brink of collapse. In fact while some are taking austere measures to survive, others who cannot bear the adverse effect of the situation are gradually folding.

Many Small Scale and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are losing a lot of income due to intermittent power outages and fluctuations.

Undeniably, electricity remains most important and cheapest form of energy for majority of SMEs, if they could be sustained in business.

This is because SMEs mostly rely on and use electricity for diverse purposes – production, storage, product display.

   Problem

Access to power supply enlarges the number and diversity of business and job prospects available.

Aside being vital sources of employment and income in many emerging countries, SMEs with their malleable nature have a better flexibility to fluctuating market situations, making them better suited to withstand recurring downturns.

A lack of a consistent access to reliable power costs businesses and the economy as a whole.

Even with access to energy, unreliable power makes operating a business even more challenging than usual.

Studies show that African manufacturing enterprises experience power outages 56 days a year on average and as a result, firms lose six percent of sales revenues in the informal sector.

Where back-up generators are limited, losses can be as high as 20 percent and t0hese losses have severe consequences for the health and growth of the wider economy, not to mention the dramatic impact in achieving other development objectives outlined by the Sustianable Development Goals

Intermittent power fluctuations and outages are affecting and collapsing many SMEs in Bono, Ahafo and Bono East Regions.

Research shows that poor electricity or power supply have worsened in Dormaa, Techiman, Nkoranza and Wenchi Municipalities, and the SMEs doing businesses in these areas are operating at huge loses.

Basically, this is because day in and day out their electrical gadgets and appliances are being damaged due to unannounced power outages and inconsistencies in electricity supply.

Advocacy Action

But, thanks to the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund for its nationwide advocacy support to help vulnerable businesses to address bottlenecks that impede their growth and development.

Last year, with support from the Center for Posterity Interest Organisation (COPIO), a service provider, the Brong-Ahafo Coalition of Business Association (BACBA), the largest umbrella for SMEs in Bono, Ahafo and Bono East Regions started the implementation of an advocacy project.

Titled “Easing Access to PURC and Stabilising the Supply of Electricity Power: Promoters of Business Growth in the Brong-Ahafo Region”, the project seeks to establish linkages with development partners both nationally and internationally.

Its main objective is to facilitate the establishment of the Public Utilities Regulation Commission (PURC) secretariat to address concerns of utility users in the three regions.

The implementation of the 10-month advocacy project costing GHC189,000.00 and being facilitated COPIO further aimed at providing advocacy services for rural and urban communities.

This is because the more than 2,000 members of the BACBA, and other utility consumers have no other option than to travel to the PURC office in Kumasi to lodge complaint and seek redress over unsatisfactory power supply.

According to Mr Mustapha Maison Yeboah, the Chairman of BACBA, businesses of over 20 per cent of the members were on the verge of collapse due to frequent power outages.

He cited that majority of cold store operators in the Dormaa Central Municipality had already lost their businesses and incurred huge debts as a result.

BACBA is made up of hairdressers, dressmakers, tailors, barbers, private FM radio stations owners, welders and cold store operators.

Dr John Yaw Akparep, a Consultant to the Association pointed out that easy access to the PURC offices would put fear into power and utility providers, and pushed the suppliers to compensate businesses for damaged property, electrical appliances and gadgets.

     Achievements  

SMEs nonetheless thrive because larger public companies create opportunities through forward and backward linkages, and governments serve as operational institutional support for creating market access and providing a favorable environment.

These businesses are now open to better prospects than ever for increase and diversification across the sectors.

This is because the BUSAC/COPIO/BACBA advocacy has pushed the PURC to establish a new office in Sunyani to serve SMEs and entire utility consumers in Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions.

At long last consumers in the three regions will easily access the PURC office, situated at the Sunyani main garage along the Sunyani-Kumasi highway.

Mrs Maami Dufie Ofori, the Executive Secretary of the PURC opening the Sunyani office on Thursday March 14, 2019, assured utility users of the commission’s commitment to ensure that service providers render excellent and quality services to consumers.

She emphasized that the interest of consumers remained paramount to the commission, and advised any person who has electricity or water concerns which has not been satisfactorily resolved by the NEDCO and GWCL to contact the commission for redress.

Recommendation

Despite the advocacy achievement BACBA recommends NEDCO gives business owners prior notice concerning power outages in the Regions to enable them plan ahead of time.

Failure to do so, the PURC must quickly intervene and institute severe sanctions against NEDCO and also pay compensations for damaged electrical gadgets owned by the businesses.

The association also recommends that PURC intensify education on their mandate for the public to understand and get themselves well abreast with the activities and operations.

That notwithstanding, it also recommended to SMEs adopt and use alternative sources of power as a means of addressing the power problems in the Region.

These include use of generators and installation of solar panels for energy supply and efficiency.

Source: By COPIO Team

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Author: WatchGhana.Com    Verified

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