Millennium Challenge Corporation Powering Africa: Ghana

Last week, the team wrapped up the fourth and final stop of our West Africa trip in Accra, Ghana’s capital and largest city. The Millennium Challenge Corporations' (MCC) $498 million Ghana Power Compact supports the Government of Ghana’s goal of increasing energy access and reliability while attracting private-sector investment. It is the largest U.S. Government Power Africa transaction to date, and one that is expected to catalyze billions of dollars in private investment in the power sector.

MCC’s Ghana Power Compact is building on a strong foundation -- our first compact, completed in 2012, focused on raising farmer incomes through private-sector-led agribusiness development. Now, we’re tackling another key barrier to economic growth and moving the country one step closer to a more competitive and self-sustaining power sector.

No Power, No Business

In Ghana, the supply of power has simply not kept pace with demand. The lack of affordable and reliable power is a real barrier to doing business in the country. At Accra New Town, we talked with caterers, barbers, and print shop owners whose businesses are regularly interrupted by electricity outages.

We met with several business across Accra to hear first-hand the impact of “Dumsor” (power outages) on their bottom line.

5th Avenue Chemist

Power outages in Accra New Town in Ghana have hurt businesses like the 5th Avenue Chemist, a pharmacy that Richie, above, and his father, Godfred, have run for 16 years. MCC is tackling this barrier to growth by investing in Ghana's power sector. (MCC Photo)

Richie and his father, Godfred, have been running a pharmacy for 16 years. Due to Dumsor, they are unable to sell life-saving medicine like insulin because they do not have reliable enough electricity to maintain a refrigerator required to store these drugs at the recommended temperature.

They also lose business when the power goes out because when neighboring businesses close, fewer customers come in to buy their medicine. In fact, they saw a 90 percent decrease in business during the worst of the power outages.

Del Advertising

This printing company was started by a young University of Ghana graduate named Delali in September 2006. When the power went out, he had to go to a friend’s office to use his electricity and send emails to his clients.

As Del's company grew, his brother Billy joined him.

During the Dumsor era, they were forced to purchase a generator to stay in business. When the generator exploded due to overuse, they lost most of their business because they were unable to meet deadlines. And even though they weren't making money, employees still had to be paid.

Many small- and medium-sized businesses like these are forced to rely on expensive generators, which means they don’t have funds to invest in growing their business -- if they’re able to stay open at all. Private-sector participation alongside targeted infrastructure investments and power sector reforms will help deliver more reliable and affordable power to Ghana’s businesses and households.

Partmor’s Snacks

Abena and her mom, Patience, have been operating a small catering shop for the past 16 years where they bake an assortment of pastries and wedding cakes. Recently, they expanded to include a training center where they have two young female trainees and one employee.

Like other businesses in the area, they have had a fair share of problems with Dumsor. One of the fridges stocked with drinks caught fire due to a voltage spike. Had it not been for the intervention of neighbors, the entire store would have burned down, and might have affected other shops.

Nii's Barber Shop

Nii, who owns Nii's Barber Shop in Accra New Town, Ghana, with two other owners, says the lack of reliable power keeps their business from growing. [MCC photo]

Nii runs a barber shop with two other owners. Unreliable power means he is unable to use the equipment he'd need to offer additional services to grow his business, like a nail dryer and refrigerator.

And sometimes he has to turn away customers when the power is off because he needs good lighting to work and his shop gets too hot and uncomfortable for customers without the fan.

During our visit, we had a productive meeting with Ghanaian Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Minister of Finance and Power Seth Terkper, Deputy Minister of Power John Jinapor, and Minister of Petroleum Armah Buah. We discussed the difficult but necessary reforms the Government has made that opened the door to private investment in the country’s power sector as well as compact implementation plans.

We’ve seen some incredible things throughout this four-country trip and met some amazing, inspiring people across Benin, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and now here in Ghana. MCC is proud to support the growth of the power sector across the region and promote economic growth and poverty reduction that transforms the lives of millions of people for years to come.

Thanks for joining us on this incredible journey.

About the author: Lorelle Atkinson serves as the Deputy Vice President of Public Affairs in MCC’s Congressional and Public Affairs Department.

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on the MCC's Blog and is part of a series of blogs being published during the MCC CEO's Africa Tour.

For more information

  • Check out more photos, videos, and updates from the MCC CEO Africa Tour on the MCC's Spark page 
  • Follow @MCCGov on Twitter for additional information and updates.

Comments

Comments

Elizabeth I.
|
Minnesota, USA
November 9, 2016
Electricity is powerful access to light land and many elements.
Posted by Lorelle Atkinson
November 7, 2016

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