Fridays are mostly happy days because they are the last working days of the week and many look forward to the exciting weekends. But trust me; weekends with unreliable power supply or total black out are the longest most boring ones and no one want that. At the time, we had load shedding in my country Ghana such that some areas would have electricity while others wouldn’t. We would have electricity for two days and go the next two days without power. It was no longer a big deal when it became the norm as people and companies expected protracted hours of power outages. Few companies and a handful of individuals who had the means depended on alternative power sources like generating sets and solar power. We had one in my office but we could only put it on when the boss was around or gave the permission to do so.
Unfortunately for me and my co-workers, our boss mostly would not come to the office on days he knew there would black out. On such days, staffs would resort to gossips and unproductive activities that almost grounded work to a halt. Believe me, many organizations lost lots of productive man hours because staff don’t work when there is no light.
As a communication officer, I had to be on phone, send emails and letters, organize workshops and trainings and my work was practically impossible without the use of electricity. I made lots of calls daily which meant I constantly needed to charge the phones. I needed electricity to power the computer. I needed access to the internet to send and reply mails daily. The workshops and training sessions involved hundreds of people and without electricity it was quiet difficult and boring as I would have to shout on top of my voice without a public address system due to power cuts, not to mention the problem of ventilation. The importance of electricity to me and many others cannot be overemphasized.
Whilst working as a communication officer, I was also studying public relations at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. I didn’t have a personal computer so I used the office computer and internet for my research, studies and assignment.
One day, I received a parcel from my aunt who lived in the UK and upon opening it, I became the happiest student on earth. The parcel included an IPad, a smart phone and some cash. I experienced a sigh of relief and unspeakable joy because I could now work on my assignment using my IPad and smart phone.
On this fateful Friday, at about 5:00pm I closed from work and headed to my friend office to access the internet and complete an assignment that was due for submission the next morning. I had an exam to write that day so I had to complete my assignment and have a good night rest ahead of the exams.
At about 8:00pm, I had successfully completed my assignment and was heading home. I stood at the bus-stop expecting to get on the next available bus. The bus stop was already badly lit and all of a sudden, the street lights went off following a power cut. I was overjoyed because I had finished my assignment before the power cut. I held a file containing my assignment to my left hand and my bag to the right hand. As I walked away in my joyful mood I felt an unpleasant slap at the back of my head. I turned to find out what hit me only to experience a dirtier slap on my left chick. A man pulled me to the ground, another man joined him and they beat me mercilessly. The right thing to do was to shout for help but how could I when one of the men held my neck and almost strangle me to death. The area had become dark all of a sudden and so did my eyes. I could not shout for help neither did I sight anyone. I could barely see the faces of the men who had accosted me.
For a moment I thought I had left the land of the living until I opened my eyes on the hospital bed. It was December 2015 and I had to write my examination with wounds and pains. The only thing I saw with me upon opening my eyes was the document containing my assignment. My IPad, phone, Money, national and student identity cards, ATM cards and many vital materials were gone for good.
This is an experience I would never forget for the rest of my life. Had there been energy to power the street lights, I wouldn’t have had such a horrible experience. I survived death but how about those who didn’t survive? Many people have been injured, rapped, assaulted and so many lives lost and many others exposed to risks for mere lack of electricity.
The power sector in Ghana is faced with a host of challenges, including inadequate power supply, huge distribution losses, extension of power infrastructure which requires huge investments, over reliance on hydro-power generation, weak regulatory capacity, enforcement and management difficulties.
Ghana’s current unstable power supply is detrimental not only to economic growth and development but lives.