Ghana is estimated to lose between $320 million and $924 million a year in terms of decline in productivity and economic growth due to the current energy crisis facing the country, the Ghana Social Development Outlook (GSDO) 2014 of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana has revealed.
In addition, the report said the country would incur a social development cost of between two to six per cent of the country’s gross domestic products per year.
The GSDO is a biennial report of ISSER which, among others, focuses on social issues such as education, water and sanitation, health, housing, employment, energy and security and governance.
Highlighting on the report at the launch in Accra on Friday, the Head of Social Division of ISSER, Reverend Dr. Adobea Yaa Owusu said the current power shortages and load-shedding exercise in the country was having serious impact on industry.
“The inadequate access to clean, reliable and affordable energy as is the case now is a major bottle for sustainable development,” she said.
Rev. Dr. Owusu who coordinated the report said the report revealed that 28 per cent of Ghanaians did not have access to electricity.
“Only 18.2 per cent of the population has access to liquefied petroleum gas,” she said, adding that “wood fuel remains the dominant cooking fuel in most households.”
She said deforestation rates in Ghana were among the highest in Africa, with current levels of wood fuel consumption far exceeding forest growth.
Aside the economic impact of the current energy crisis, Rev. Dr. Owusu also said the energy crisis was “a major constraint on social development”.
She said the current power crisis had “both environmental and health implications, especially on women and girls who are mainly responsible for cooking”.
Rev Dr Owusu said the power crisis also had huge public cost, explaining that a recent study conducted by the Chief Psychiatrist found “huge psychosocial trauma”.
She said the fumes from being churned out by generators had carcinogenic effect and could cause lung and throat cancers for those who inhale the smoke.
Among other recommendations, Rev Dr Owusu said Ghana should tap on the huge potential for solar, wind and hydro to provide off-grid and mini-grid solutions to meet rural electrification.
“These opportunities have not been explored to the extent they should,” noting biomass resources had not been given due attention.
The country’s energy distributor, Electricity Company of Ghana, is embarking on load shedding due to a shortfall in energy supply from the Volta River Authority and other independent power producers.
By Kingsley Asare & Baaba Crentsil