By Moses Mozart Dzawu and Tariq Panja
Ghana will boost power production during its World Cup matches and asked the nation’s largest aluminum smelter to reduce consumption to make sure that scheduled blackouts don’t interfere with the Black Stars’ games. Neighbour Ivory Coast has agreed to supply 50 megawatts to Ghana during its games, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission said in an e-mailed statement. The Volta Aluminum Co. has been asked to reduce power use during Black Stars matches, the agency said. Ghana plays its first game on June 16 in Natal, Brazil, against the U.S. The tournament starts tomorrow, with the host nation’s team facing Croatia. “These plans are put in place for consumers to watch uninterruptible football matches during the World Cup,” the agency said in the statement. “Within these arrangements the load-shedding schedule, though varied, still exists.”
Ghana will probably have to ration power through the first quarter of 2015 because it lacks the spare capacity to replace plants shut down for repair, the Volta River Authority said last month. The agency provides 80 percent of the nation’s electricity. Ghana has been rationing power this month because of a shortage of natural gas and below average levels of water at hydroelectric plants. The Black Stars want to advance beyond the quarterfinals this year, the stage in which they lost to Uruguay on penalty kicks in 2010 in South Africa, Kudjoe Fianoo, executive committee member of the Ghana Football Association, said in an interview in Sao Paulo. “Football is the passion of the nation,” he said, referring to Ghana as the Brazil of Africa. “It is no wonder the government is spending extra money to get us reliable power at this very important time in our nation.”
Ghana, which has about 24 million residents, moved up one step to 37th place on the FIFA rankings released on June 5. The world’s second-largest cocoa producer generates about 2,000 megawatts of power, below capacity of 2,800 megawatts, according to the Volta River Authority. “That essentially sounds like a populist measure given the reforms needed in the power sector of the country” Shilan Shah, economist at Capital Economics in London, said by phone. “There is growing dismay among the people over cost of living, rising inflation and government putting cap on wages.”
Ghana will probably report a budget
gap above 10 percent of gross domestic product for a third year in 2014 because of rising government wages and a decline in the currency that is making imports more expensive, Fitch Ratings said this year. The central bank said today it financed the government’s deficit in the first quarter, a move Fitch warned risks stoking inflation that reached 14.8 percent in May.
“The government wants the people to have power so they can watch the game,” Yvonne Mhango, Johannesburg-based sub-Saharan Africa economist at Renaissance Capital, said by phone. “The government should be concerned that if this was not budgeted for from the beginning of the year, it represents an additional cost on the annual budget.” (Bloomberg)